So now you’ve found some articles, what do you do now? Read them and evaluate them! But you don’t need to read them from beginning to end. Check out our blog posting on how to read journal articles effectively and efficiently. You will need to evaluate each article to see if it will be useful for your topic. What is considered useful?:
- Look through the preface, introduction, or abstract. Does it apply to your research? If it does, read more of the resource. If it doesn’t, stop and move on to another source.
- Where or by whom was it published? Is it a scholarly journal article, from a reputable publisher, or an opinion piece? Most professors will ask for peer-reviewed sources, meaning the article or book has gone under some kind of scholarly review.
- Who is the intended audience? What is the level of information, and what assumptions is the author making about you, the reader?
- Is it comprehensive? Does it cover your topic in enough detail?
- Look at the references. Does it cite other scholarly sources? You can also use references to find more useful resources for your topic.
- Is there any bias? Is it clear that the author is writing from a particular point of view, or are they neutral?
- How accurate is the resource? Does it match the other things you have read?
- How timely is the resource? Was it written two years ago, or thirty years ago? For some topics, information becomes dated quickly (i.e. medical science), but for others, it can last (i.e. history).
- Is the author credible? What do you know about them? if it is an aorganization, what can you find out about it?
- Are the points or arguments in the article backed up with appropriate evidence?
We recommend taking notes when you are evaluating and going through your resources, so that you remember the important points. You can organize by subheading, write a working outline, or use colour coding. Check out our blog posting on writing notes.