Evaluation and Use of Journal Articles

Why use journal articles?

  • Current up to date information
  • Subject specific forums for discussion

Types of Journals

Eye catching, glossy, use of colour
Aimed at non-professionals
Large amounts of advertising
No bibliographies
Staff writers, may be unsigned
Aimed at a specific audience, often business related
Promote new products or techniques
Staff and contributing authors
May have short bibliographies
Some advertising, related areas
Less glossy, less colour
Aimed at researchers and professionals
Information about current research
Contributing authors, often peer reviewed or refereed
Few advertisements
The Bulletin
Who weekly
Reader’s Digest
New Scientist
Psychology today
Journal of Food and Nutrition

Consider the following when evaluating: PABACCOBI

What is the purpose of the article?
  • To persuade you to a viewpoint?
  • To prove a theory?
  • To inform about new information

Who is the intended audience?
  • General population
  • School children
  • University students
  • Professionals or specialists
  • Scholars or researchers

Is there bias?
  • Conservative/left wing
  • Alternative press
  • Political or action group
  • Sponsored research

Authority of the author
  • Who is the author
  • Is he/she recognised in field
  • What else have they published

Currency of the article
  • Is it up-to-date
  • Timeless
  • Out of date

What is the coverage of the article?
  • Is it a comprehensive summary of the field
  • Partial
  • Overview

How is the article organised?
  • Is it focussed and easy to follow
  • Is the argument clearly presented
  • Is this original research, a review of previous research or informative

Is a bibliography included?
  • Is it easily understood
  • Short or long
  • Primary or secondary sources

  • Do they assist the reader’s understanding
  • Are they relevant to the article

How to find journal articles


State Library of Victoria
Register as a user of their
Online databases


Journal websites
Internet Public Library
Newspaper websites
Internet Public Library

How to Evaluate Journal Articles

[Detailed version of How to Evaluate Journal Articles]

To evaluate a journal article look for:

  • Purpose of Article: Why was the article written? To: persuade the reader to do something? inform the reader? prove something?
  • Type of Journal: For college-level term papers, information should be obtained mostly from scholarly journals. See also Evaluation Clues for Articles Taken from the Web
  • Organization and Content: Is the material organized and focused? Is the argument or presentation understandable? Is this original research, a review of previous research, or an informative piece?
  • **Bias** (of the publisher)

  • Usefulness: Is the article relevant to the current research project?

  • Authority/author: Is the author an expert in this field? Where is the author employed? What else has he/she written? Has he/she won awards or honors?

  • Coverage: Does the article cover the topic comprehensively, partially, or is it an overview?

  • Audience: For what type of reader is the author writing?

  • Illustrations: Are charts, graphs, maps, photographs, etc. used to illustrate concepts? Are the illustrations relevant? Are they clear and professional-looking?
Colorado State University
Colorado State University

Colorado State University Libraries
Colorado State University Libraries