Scholarly articles in the sciences follow a particular format. You may not always see every part labeled, but the content will include the following:
ABSTRACT – a summary of the article
INTRODUCTION – a brief explanation of the research topic and why this particular research was performed.
MATERIALS and METHODS – How the research was performed
RESULTS – The results of the research. An explanation of what happened.
DISCUSSION or CONCLUSION – What do the results mean? What is significant or important of them? What was learned?
REFERENCES – The research of others that was consulted in the writing of this article.
For more help, see the interactive guide Anatomy of a Scholarly Article, created by NCSU, and the video at right, "How to Read A Scholarly Article" created by Western University.
Knowing how to find relevant, reliable, and accurate information can help you create better research assignments. These same skills will help you make informed decisions about real world questions such as buying a car, evaluating financial aid options or deciding which graduate school is best for you.
Use the criteria below to help you evaluate the information you find.
*Authority: The source of the information.
Who is the author? Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
What makes this person knowledgeable on this topic?
What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
*Purpose: The reason the information exists.
There should be no broad generalizations that are not supported by evidence.
The purpose, intent and audience should be clearly stated.
Are arguments supported by facts? Are other viewpoints recognized?
*Currency: The timeliness of the information.
When was the information published?
Has the information been revised or updated?
Are the links functional?
*Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.
Is the information supported by evidence?
Are sources documented with footnotes or bibliography?
Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
Can you find some of the same information given elsewhere?
*Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
Is there information in the source that is strongly related to your topic?
Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
Adapted from Evaluating Information – Applying the CRAAP Test, Meriam Library, California State University, Chico. http://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf