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STEM

Evaluating Articles

Not all articles are created equally. Evaluating sources for relevancy and usefulness is one the most important steps in research. This helps researchers in the STEM disciplines to gather the information they need. There are several tools to use when evaluating an article. 

Purpose

  • What is the purpose of the article?
    • Purposes can include persuasion, informing, or proving something to the reader. Depending on the topic of your paper, you will want to evaluate the article's purpose to support your own position. 

Publication

  • Who published the article?
    • Most sources for college papers should come from scholarly journals. Scholarly journals are journals that are peer-reviewed before publication. This means that experts in the field read and approve the material in the article before it is published.
  • When was the article published?
    • The date of publication is especially relevant to those in the STEM disciplines. Research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics moves very quickly, so have an article that was published recently will be more useful. 
  • Is the publisher affiliated with a reputable institution? 
    • Many universities operate their own press, Indiana University included! Books and articles that are published by a reputable institution are generally accepted as valuable information. Other notable presses included Harvard University Press and The MIT Press. 

Authors

  • Who wrote the article? 
    • Good sources of information come from experts in the field. This is called authority. Many times these individuals will be employed at research institutions such as universities, labs, or founded associations. 
  • What else have the author/authors written?
    • Many times, authors with authority have written more than one article about a topic in their field. Not only does this add support to their reputation, but can also be a great source for more articles. 
  • Has the author been cited?
    • Citation is a great indicator to the effectiveness of the article. If other experts are citing the article, it is a good sign this source is trusted and relevant. 

Bibliography

  • What is listed in the bibliography?
    • Scholarly works will always contain a bibliography of the sources used. Trusted articles will have sources that are also scholarly in nature and authored by individuals with authority in their field. 
  • Are the sources listed in the bibliography relevant?
    • Much like evaluating the publication of an article, the bibliography of the source should also contain sources that are up-to-date.