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How to Evaluate Resources: Articles

A guide to evaluating search engines, books, articles and websites for research.

Evaluating Articles

Articles generally come from newspapers, magazines or journals.  It's important to be aware of the differences between popular periodicals (newspapers and magazines) and academic journals in order to determine which will be most appropriate for your research. 

Consider the following questions and view the comparison chart below:


1.  Authority

Who are the authors?

Does the article include the author's credentials and/or affiliations?

What type of publication does the article appear in?

Does the publication have credibility and a good reputation?

2.  Accuracy

Does the article cite references?

Is the work subject to peer review to determine the reliability of the content?

3.  Objectivity

What is the purpose of the article?

Does the article present factual information or opinion?

4.  Currency

When was the article published?

Does the article cover a recent topic?

If references are provided, when were they published?

5.  Coverage

Does the article contain information relevant to your topic?

Who is the intended audience?

Do the articles within the periodical cover a wide range of topics or focus on a narrow subject area?

Do the articles within the periodical provide overviews on topics or present original research?

Comparing Periodicals








The Globe and Mail

Maclean’s Magazine

Journalism Studies

Type of periodical





staff writers/journalists

staff writers/journalists

academics in the field of journalism

References cited?









news and opinions covering a wide range of topics 

news and opinions covering a wide range of topics 

scholarly articles in the field of journalism

Intended audience

general reader

general reader

students and professionals in journalism

Peer Review in 3 Minutes

Below is a 3-minute video, courtesy of the North Carolina State University library, explaining the peer review process. 

Is it peer-reviewed?

Professors will often require their students to use peer-reviewed articles in their papers. A journal can be scholarly, but this does not always mean it's peer-reviewed. How can you be certain if an article is peer-reviewed or not?  Here are a couple of tips to help you:

1. Let the database be your guide

Many databases allow you to refine your search only to peer-reviewed articles. 

Some separate your search results for you and give you the option to view only the peer-reviewed results. 

Some also provide an information page on the journal the article appears in and will indicate if the journal is peer-reviewed.

2. Ulrichsweb

This "is a bibliographic database providing detailed, comprehensive, and authoritative information on serials published throughout the world."  Simply enter the name of the journal in the database's search box to bring up information on it.  

Note:  this database uses the term "refereed" in place of "peer-reviewed."   


Please ask staff at the Archer Library Help Desk if you need help in determining if your resource is peer-reviewed.

Peer Review =/= Perfect

While peer-reviewed articles are generally considered to be the gold standard in academic publishing, it's important to keep in mind that peer review is not a perfect, fail-proof system.  Along with all other types of information sources, peer reviewed articles should also be looked at with a critical eye.  Make yourself aware of the research's place within the larger conversation on the subject matter.  Here are some sites that can help you do that:

When is it ok... use newspapers and magazines?

Newspapers and magazines can be valuable resources when you need:

  • information on a current event
  • primary sources
  • background information on a topic
  • interviews

Download this guide