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Tarleton State University Libraries Unit 8
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image of periodicals   Articles (print and online) differ in content, purpose, and quality due to many factors. However, all articles can be evaluated using criteria like those given below, which are arranged in six categories.

Each category lists evaluative questions and gives suggested ways to find answers to the questions. Links to more criteria are listed after the last category.

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• What is the article's purpose? Is the purpose stated or implied? Does that matter?
• Does the article try to persuade, inform, or prove something? How so?
• Is the article a primary or secondary source?
• Who is its intended audience? How might this influence its content?
• What type of periodical published the article (scholarly, popular, trade, etc.)?
  Checking purpose and audience:
-- Read the purpose/mission statement for the periodical.
-- Read the article submission guidelines.
-- Notice the tone and terminology used in the article.
-- Note the presence/absence and types of advertising and announcements.
-- Examine the types of information, evidence, and examples used.
-- Find out about the periodical using Genamics JournalSeek and Magazines for Libraries (a reference work available in most libraries).

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• Does the author have adequate qualifications/expertise?
• Is the work cited in other writings (especially articles in comparable fields)?
• Are the author's qualifications given? Where is the author employed?
• Who is the sponsoring agency, organization, or institution for the periodical?
• What are the agency's/organization's credentials and reputation?
  Checking the writer's authority:
-- Use biographical dictionaries and critical essays to investigate the author.
-- Search appropriate databases for works that cite the article.
-- Read articles that cite/critique the article (and other works by the author).
-- Find out if the author has written other articles, reports, etc. on the topic.
-- Check the online home page for the periodical or its sponsoring organization.

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• Is a bibliography or reference list available so information can be verified?
• Does the article offer trustworthy information?
• Is the information protected by copyright? Who is the copyright holder?
• Does the article indicate editorial quality (free of errors)?
  Checking accuracy and reliability:
-- Examine the text for evidence of careful research.
-- Check if data, statistics, and facts are documented (and current).
-- Double-check information in the article with other sources.
-- Read critiques and analyses in reputable sources.
-- Determine if the periodical is peer-reviewed, editor-reviewed, etc.
-- Examine the quality of items listed in the bibliography, if one is present.
-- Check the publisher: academic, commercial, non-profit, etc.

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• Is the information biased or balanced, subjective or objective?
• Is the text mostly fact or opinion? Is that appropriate?
• Does the text acknowledge the above?
• Does the writer use logical or emotional appeal?
  Checking objectivity:
-- Examine the writer's claims. Are they logical and reasonable?
-- Examine the evidence presented. Is it adequate and credible?
-- Read critical essays about and responses to the article.
-- Notice the presence/absence and types of advertising
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• When was the article published? Does that matter?
• Is the information current? Should it be?
• Are current research findings and/or theories evident? Should they be?
  Checking work's currency:
-- Check dates on references, if any are given.
-- Check dates given for any data presented in the text.
-- Compare the information with that presented in other sources.
-- Check the publishing history (date on the periodical, footnotes about previous publishing, presence in databases, etc.).

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• Does the article adequately cover its topic?
• Does the article present original ideas or rehash those of others?
• Are significant aspects of the topic omitted?
• Are omissions acknowledged and explained?
  Checking coverage:
-- Examine the introductory paragraphs and editor's notes about the article.
-- Analyze the breadth of content. Does it meet expectations?
-- Read articles that discuss or analyze the article in question.
-- Compare the article with similar works.
-- Look at the article's length. Is it long enough to adequately cover the topic?

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Additional Evaluation Criteria
•  Critically Analyzing Information Sources by Olin and Uris Libraries, Cornell University
•  Evaluating Articles and Other Sources: A Checklist from Danville Area Community College library
•  Evaluating Journal Articles from Arizona State University Libraries
•  Evaluating Sources from Tarleton Library - Central Texas

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Updated 7/2004