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There is a wide range of publishing models throughout journals and publishers. This means that not every journal article holds the same level of quality and content. Here are some things to think about when you read a journal article.
Evaluating the Quality of a Journal Article
These questions will help you determine if you have an article that will be appropriate to use for your assignment.
If most of the answers to these questions is "yes" then you have a good article. If they are mostly "no", you may want to find another article.
- Is the article your reading peer reviewed? See the Peer Reviewed tab.
- Is the author an expert in the field? Where is the author employed? What else have they written?
- When was the article published? Does the topic require current information? Some topics, such as those in the health sciences, require current information. Other subjects, such as history, value older material as well as current.
- Is this article relevant to my research?
- What type of periodical did the article come from? Is it a scholarly article or a popular article. See the Scholarly Articles tab.
- Does the article cover the topic adequately? Some articles will only cover a small portion of the topic. Other articles will be comprehensive. You may need several articles to completely cover a topic.
- Is the research in the article reliable and valid? Making sure an article is peer reviewed is a good start. You should also review the methodology and conclusion of the article critically.
Evaluating the Content of a Journal Article
The following is a just a guideline. You do not need to answer each question in turn – the idea is to give you a context for thinking about the issues in general.
- Background information
- Definition of terms
- History of the question/problem
- What are the questions/problems that are being investigated?
- How did they study the questions/problems?
- What is being measured?
- What was the setting of the experiment?
- Who were the participants in the experiment?
- How many participants?
- What type of participants (e.g., gender, age, condition, control group, special traits, …)?
- What steps did they take to carry out the experiment?
- What did they observe?
- What were the main results?
- What are the confounding variables?
- How statistically significant are the results?
- What did they conclude from their results?
- What are plausible explanations for their findings?
- Is there any contradictory findings? If so, what were they?
- What are plausible explanations for these contradictory findings?
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