How to Evaluate Journal Articles

  The chart below provides key elements to assist you in evaluating a journal article.

Purpose of the Article: Why was the article written?



To persuade?

To inform?

To prove something?

Type of Journal: For college level research

Information should be obtained mostly from scholarly journals.




‐Scholarly Journals – contain articles describing high
quality research that has been reviewed by experts
in the field.
‐Trade Magazines – may be useful for topics in
business or where economic data is needed. They
are also good for learning what current “hot topics”
are in an area.
‐Popular Magazine – Should be used sparingly, or
not at all.

 Organization & Content

‐Is the material organized and focused?
‐Is the argument or presentation understandable?
‐Is this original research, a review of previous
research, or an informative piece?

Bias: Some publications have an inherent bias
that will impact articles printed in them.



Is the journal:
An alternative press?
Published by a political action (PAC) group?

Date of Article: Know the time needs of your
topic and examine the timeliness of the articles.


Is the article:

Bibliography: Scholarly works always contain a
bibliography of resources that were consulted.
This reference list should be in sufficient
quantity and appropriate for the content.



Look for:
‐If the bibliography exists,
‐If the bibliography is short or long,
‐If the bibliography is selective or comprehensive,
‐If the references are primary sources (ex. Journal
articles) or only secondary sources (ex.
‐If the citation style is clear and consistent.

Usefulness: Is the article relevant to the current
research project?




If it is a useful article does it:
‐Support an argument
‐Refute an argument
‐Give examples (survey results, primary research
finding, case studies)
‐Provide “wrong” information that can be
challenged or disagreed with productively

Authority: Is the author(s) and/or publisher(s)
credentials verifiable.

Is the author an expert in this field?
Where is the author employed?
What else has he/she written?
Scope/Coverage: Does the article cover the
topic comprehensively, partially, or provide an
Audience: For what type of reader is the author
writing? This relates to the type of publication
(i.e. journal, magazine, trade publication).
‐General reader (popular magazine),
‐Students (high school, college, graduate),
‐Specialists or professional (trade magazines),
‐Researchers or scholars (scholarly journals)?
Illustrations: Are charts, graphs, maps,
photographs used to illustrate concepts? Are the
illustrations relevant? Are they clear and

Created by Naomi Lederer, Colorado State University Libraries
Modified with permission, Kelly McBride

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