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Evaluating Information

Use this guide to get some insights on how you should evaluate sources for your academic research

Use scholarly journals and articles when you need:

  • Original research on a topic;
  • Articles or essays written by scholars or subject experts;
  • Factual, documented information to reinforce a position or argument;
  • Reference lists that point you to other relevant research

The articles found in many scholarly journals go through a peer-review process, meaning that they have been checked by other academics and experts. In other words, the information provided is reliable. In addition to containing scholarly information, journals often include reports or reviews of current research, topic-specific information, and notifications of new publications.

Popular articles, usually found online or in magazines, are often written by a journalist or professional writer for a general audience. They tend to be shorter than scholarly journal articles and rarely give full citations of their source. Popular articles from magazines are helpful if you want background information on a topic that is new to you or very current information.

Articles and Peer Review

Scholarly journal articles will typically include the following:

  • An abstract or summary at the beginning;
  • Citations or a bibliography;
  • The author's affiliation and credentials; and
  • The journal title will often contain words such as journal or review and is dedicated to a specific subject or topic

Also consider these points about scholarly journal articles:

  • They are written to inform researchers in the field and thus contain specialized language
  • They tend to have few, if any, images, but often contain charts, graphs, or data tables


Found an article, but you aren't sure if it's scholarly? Compare it to the Anatomy of a Scholarly Article from North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries.

There's also a streaming version, if you have 4-5 minutes to spare (trust us, it will be time well-spent).


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