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HIS 301: American History Before 1865: Evaluating Scholarly Articles

Guide to paper and electronic resources for students in Dr. Calvert's section concentrating on American history before 1865. Spring 2013. Calvert.

Evaluation of Scholarly Articles

Not all articles, even articles published in academic journals are created equal.  Part of your responsibility as a scholar/researcher is to evaluate the information available to you and choose the best to support your research hypothesis/question.  Fortunately, there are accepted criteria you can use to help you analyze and evaluate articles and choose the best of what is available to you.   

Author/Authority: What qualifies the author (s) to write on the topic in this discipline or field.  Consider what you know or can find out about the author's credentials, institutional affiliation, educational background, past writings, or experience.  Have you heard of or read about this author before-in class, in your readings?  Has this author been cited by others who have been published in academic journals?  Is the author associated with a reputable institution or organization?

Accuracy:  Does the article contain facts and present results that agree with your own knowledge of the subject or agree with those of other specialists in the field.  Does the article provide clear explanations of how data was gathered and conclusions were reached. 

Purpose: Academic articles are written to report on original research, experimentation, methodology and theory or new interpretations/explanations of others' research and theories. 

Language:  Academic articles are written for readers at least at a college level using the specialised vocabulary of the subject/research area.   

Audience:  Academic articles are written for scholars, researchers, college and university students.

Documentation:  Academic articles have footnotes/bibliographies properly citing the author's research.

Appearance:  Academic articles are plainly printed with charts, graphs, and tables but few if any glossy or color photographs or illustrations.

Format:  Most articles in academic journals in the social sciences, life sciences and other disciplinary publications, include the same general parts:

     1. Introduction
     2. Review of Literature
     3. Methodology
     4. Findings (also called Results)
     5. Discussion
     6. Conclusion
     7. References (APA)
     8. Appendices