Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Evaluating Sources

This guide will assist you in evaluating sources for their currency, relevancy, authority, accuracy, and purpose. It also has information on how to distinguish a scholarly source from non-scholarly sources.

Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Publications

A scholarly article....

  • Is written by experts
  • Is written to communicate with peers
  • Is published in a scholarly journal
  • Is typically either reviewed by peers or by an editor prior to publication
    • Peer review - involves a comprehensive review process by other experts in the field (see the next tab in this guide)
    • Editor review - review of the article is done only by the editor(s) of a journal
  • Includes citations for sources

Professional or trade journals...

  • Are written by practicing professionals
  • Often discuss trends in a particular field
  • Include trade-specific advertisements
  • Examples: Harvard Business Review, Monitor on Psychology, Maximum PC

Magazines and newspapers...

  • Are often written by journalists or professional writers
  • Use language easily understood by general readers
  • Rarely give citations for sources
  • Tend to be shorter than scholarly journal articles
  • Examples: Time Magazine, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post