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Evaluate Your Sources

What you need to evaluate and how to do it.

Was the material reviewed for publication?

When researching for college, keep in mind that scholarly journals and magazines are quite different. Scholarly journals have content that has been written by scholars or experts in their field. The most authoritative scholarly journals are peer reviewed. See the chart below for a comparison of scholarly journals to popular magazines.

Reviewed or edited articles are more closely scrutinized for accuracy and value. Professional or scholarly journals have more reviewed and edited articles than popular magazines (see the chart below).

Where to Find Review for Books

Check the front of the book for information on the editing, review and selection process for that periodical.

Where to Find Review for Websites

Web sites may have this information at the beginning or end of a page or on the home page of the site, but are much less likely to have been reviewed. 

Where to Find Review for Articles

Some databases such as Academic OneFile, Academic Search Complete and Research Library let you limit your search to scholarly or peer reviewed journals. That's teh easiest way to tell if the article was reviewed before publication or not.

Scholarly Journal v. Popular Magazines

The chart below lists criteria that can be used to tell whether you have an article from a scholarly journal or from a popular magazine. Most of the criteria listed for scholarly journal articles can also be applied to books and open access sources to help determine their value. The more criteria your resource has listed under the Scholarly Journals column, the more likely it will be a good resource.

Scholarly Journals

Popular Magazines

Lengthy, detailed articles Brief articles
References and sources listed References and sources seldom given
Graphs, charts, usually no photographs Photographs
Articles written by an expert, always signed (author's name listed) Articles usually written by staff or freelance writer, frequently unsigned (author's name not listed)
Credentials of author listed Credentials usually unlisted
Aimed at people in the field Aimed at general public
Few or no ads Lots of Ads
May be peer reviewed Not peer reviewed

Cover of Appplied PsychologyExamples

Journal of Applied Psychology

JAMA

Modern Fiction Studies

 

Cover of People MagazineExamples

Fortune

Reader's Digest

People