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FOX ENG102: 1) Evaluating Research Sources

Evaluation Questions to Ask


  • Who created this? What are their qualifications/background?
  • Were there other people that helped to create this? Editors, producers, song writers, etc. 


  • What did you find? Book, article, website, statistic, photo, song, etc.
  • Is this a type of source that you can use for your assignment?


  • When was this published?
  • Does the source need to be published recently? Historically?
  • What is the timeframe covered by the source?


  • Where did you find this? Library, Internet, etc. 
  • Where was it published? Journal, Book, Magazine, Website, etc. 


  • Why was this source created? What is the purpose?
  • Why is this source useful for your research?
  • Why does this source fulfill your assignment requirements?

Formats of Sources


  • to find current information
  • to find statistical data
  • to find information from all levels of government - federal to local

Find using Google (or other search engine)


  • alternative views on topics
  • images or video clips

Find using Google, Search@UW, or Subject Databases

Magazines and Newspapers 

  • to find current information about international, national and local events
  • to find information written for the general public

Find using Google, Search@UW, or Subject Databases


  • when looking for lots of information on a topic
  • to put your topic in context with other important issues
  • to find historical information
  • to find summaries of research to support an argument

Find Using Search@UW

Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

  • when doing scholarly research
  • to find out what has been studied on your topic
  • to find references that point to other relevant research

Find using Search@UW or Subject Databases

What's in a Scholarly Journal?

So you've found a scholarly journal, now what? How do you tell if it's going to work for your paper?

Scholarly journals contain a variety of articles:

  • Editorials/Letters to the Editor (opinion pieces)
  • Book Reviews
  • Research Articles
    • Primary or Original Research Studies
    • Meta-Analysis or Reviews of Research (basically, an article summarizing many original research studies)

So what's going to work for my research paper?

  • Usually anything that's a research article will work
  • Sometimes only primary research articles will be allowed in your assignment (check the assignment requirements)

How do I tell what's what?

  • Look at the length; if it's more than a couple pages, it's probably a research article
  • Does it have a reference list or citations at the end?
  • Is an author listed? Sometimes book reviews and letters to the editor don't have authors listed
  • Does it begin with an abstract (summary) of the article?

Identifying Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Articles

Scholarly articles...

  • Have  a list of references at the end of the text 

  • Often feature an abstract (summary) at the beginning of the article 

  • Always list the author's name

  • Are detailed and are usually several pages long

  • Are many times peer-reviewed (or refereed)

  • Are aimed at scholars in a particular field (biology, history, philosophy, etc.)

  • Examples include: Journal of Philosophy, Modern Language Quarterly, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Popular magazines...

  • Often don't tell you who wrote the article or any of the sources they used

  • Are usually brief and offer only general or superficial coverage of a topic

  • Have lots of ads and are usually printed on glossy paper

  • Are written for a general audience

  • Are often great sources for current, general information on a topic

  • Examples include: Time, Newsweek, National Geographic