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Evaluating Articles

Evaluating Articles

Being an efficient and smart reader of academic content is very different than reading for fun. While different strategies work for different people, here are some tips to get you started:

Before you read, pre-read.

  • Take a look at the title and the subjects attached to the article – they will tell you what the article is mainly about.
  • If there is an abstract, read it carefully. The abstract will tell you what the article’s point of view is, what types of studies were done, and outlines the main arguments and the conclusions reached – all in one paragraph!
  • Read the introduction carefully – it will give you more information than the abstract. Then, skip to the conclusions and read those carefully. At this point, you should definitely know if the article is going to help you.
  • Often, the introduction ends with an overview of how the paper will be structured – take note of that structure because it will tell you where the information you need is in the article.

 

 Academic articles

 Non-academic articles

 Author

 Academic or researcher; look for author
 affiliations on the first or last page

 Editorial staff, freelance writer, possibly a
 researcher

 Format

 Abstract/summary, charts or graphs

 Pictures, graphics

 Citations

 Formal bibliography; uses footnotes or
 list of citations

 No formal bibliography; may include
 quotes or mention other research in text

 Language

 Technical, assumes prior knowledge

 Short, simple language

 Purpose

 Report original research or experiment to
 other academics and researchers

 Inform, entertain, sell a product or idea

 Publisher

 Professional organization

 Company, trade association

 

Use the following to practice evaluating an academic article:

Read the article linked below, paying special attention to the comments for each section highlighted in yellow. Next, answer the questions on the worksheet. The numbers in the article comments correspond to the questions, so you know which section in the article to refer to while answering the questions.

PDF of article

Evaluating Academic Article Worksheet

Questions for Evaluating Academic Articles:

  1. Abstract

a. According to the abstract, what is the main point of the article?
b. Is the article relevant or not for your purposes? Why?

  1. Introduction
    1. What issues does the author seem to be concerned about? What importance does the author assign to those issues?
    2. What is the author’s hypothesis?
    3. In this section, what does the author say about other people’s research?
  2. Methods
    1. What evidence does the author choose to look at to determine whether the hypothesis is supported or not?
    2. What data was collected? How is it used?
  3. Results
    1. How does the author categorize the results?
    2. What were the author’s findings?
    3. Are the main findings expected?
  4. Discussion
    1. What evidence does the author give in the discussion section to support the hypothesis? Give 2-3 examples of evidence the author uses. How well does the evidence support the author’s hypothesis?
    2. Did the author analyze what they initially said they would analyze (see your response to the first question)? Does the article meet its objectives?
    3. What does the author recommend as a result of their findings? Do their recommendations fit with what their research found?
    4. Does the author address the problems or limitations of their research methods? If so, what flaws or limitations do they mention?
    5. What does the author suggest as future research?

Use the following to practice evaluating non-academic articles:

Read the articles linked below. Notice how the point of view changes for each article. Answer the questions on the worksheet for each article.

Article links:

Evaluating Non-Academic Articles Worksheet

Questions for Evaluating Non-Academic Articles:

  1. Content
  1. What issue is the author addressing?
  2. What are the main points of the article?
  3. Is the article relevant or not for your purposes? Why?
  1. Authority
  1. Who is the author? Can you tell why the author is qualified to write on this topic?
  2. What type of organization produces this publication (academic, commercial, professional, etc.)? What stake does the organization have in the article’s topic?
  1. Purpose
  1. Who do you think the author’s audience is?
  2. What is the author trying to get across to that audience (i.e. change their mind about something, tell them about something new)? Does the author accomplish their purpose?
  3. How is this article helpful? Does it give you an overview of the topic, support a particular side of an argument, provide detail on a topic, etc.?
  1. Accuracy
  1. What types of resources does the author use to support their main points (data, expert testimony, scholarly articles, etc.)?
  2. Does the author identify where the information supporting their main points comes from? Can you find the original sources yourself based on what the article includes?
  3. Are there spelling, grammar, or formatting errors?
  1. Currency
  1. When was it published?
  2. How current are the sources?
  3. Is currency important for this topic?
Last updated: 7/3/2017