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PZ POST 198 Reproductive Rights Senior Seminar Research Guide: Evaluating Sources

Introduction & What is a Scholarly Journal Article?

When writing a paper, it is necessary to evaluate every source (book, article, website, etc...) to ensure it is reliableauthoritative, and the best evidence for the point you are trying to make. These are some of the questions you can ask yourself about each source to see if it is indeed authoritative and citable.

What is a scholarly journal and how is it different from a magazine or newspaper? All three are called periodicals because they are published at periodic intervals throughout the year.

  • Newspapers are the first draft of history, but are not scholarly.
  • Magazines are good sources of information or opinions about popular culture or up-to-date information on current events.
  • Scholarly or peer-reviewed journals have collections of articles written by experts in academic or professional fields.
    Such journals are excellent for finding out what has been studied or researched on a topic, and to find bibliographies that point to other relevant sources of information. Please note:  the word "journal" is not necessarily in the title of a scholarly publication.

Scholarly vs. Popular Articles

Scholarly and Popular Articles


Scholarly Article


Popular Article


research article


general interest article


written for a specialized audience


written for a general audience


author is an expert, such as a professor


author is a journalist


peer reviewed (usually)


not peer reviewed


includes bibliography


no bibliography


Articles published in:


    Personality and Social  

   Psychology Review


       Film Quarterly


Modern Language Quarterly


Articles published in:




Rolling Stone


Los Angeles Times

Evaluating Websites

Places to Look for Evaluative Criteria


Some places to look to determine CASA criteria

Resource Type






·   publication date

·   references and/or bibliography

·   author’s bio

·   publisher info

·   table of contents

·   title page

·   index(es)

·   preface

·   references and/or bibliography

Web Pages

·   last updated note

·   root page

·   author’s bio

·   menus

·   root page

·   site map

·   introduction

·   introduction

·   references and/or bibliography

Newspaper/Magazine Articles

·   publication date

·   web search on author and/or publisher

·   bold-faced, colored, or underlined text

·   highlighted quotations

·   photo captions

·   assertions are backed up with evidence


·   recently updated posts

·   author’s bio or editorial board info

·   web search on author

·   blog affiliations

·   amount of ads

·   about page

·   scan previous posts

·   assertions are backed up with evidence

Databases (e.g., Academic Search Premier, JSTOR)

·   about/scope information

·   vendor/source

·   list of publications or sources included in the database

·   help section