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Assessing and selecting: Assessing journal articles

Part of the Information Literacy Portal

Relevance

Information suitable for question and purpose
  • Does the information answers to your research question?
  • Does the information fit in with the questions you have and / or with the target audience?
  • Does the journal article represent a general picture?
Exhaustive
  • Does the article reflects a complete picture? Do you need to consult additional sources?
Up-to-date
  • Is current and up-to-date information important for your research?
  • What is the year of publication from the article?
  • Could you expect that there are more recent developments?
  • In case of references to other sources, how recent are these?

 

Reliability

Authority
  • Who is the writer and what authority does he have?
  • What is his background and has he published more often?
  • Does the author belong to a particular (research) institution or organization?
  • What is the objective of this article?
  • Is peer review important in your research? Is peer review involved in the realization of this article?
Accuracy
  • Are the facts in the article correct?
  • Are opinions substantiated with facts, based on solid grounds?
Objectivity
  • Is the information reported objectively?
  • Does the publication mainly contain facts or opinions?
  • What is the purpose of the article? Informative, opinion-forming, commercial, entertainment, ...
Quality of the journal
  • How does the journal look? Professional, table of contents, colophon, editorial board, ...
  • Who is the publisher? A professional association or society, institution, publisher, ...
Verifiability
  • Are facts or data verifiable?
  • Are the references correct? What are the sources? What is the quality of the reference list?

 

Example

You write a thesis on: How to create the very best environment in which today's children can develop information literacy skills?. You have found an article from Patricia Breivik (2005) in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, page 21-27.

Relevance

  • The article fits in well with your question, it gives an interesting view on the subject
  • For a full survey of your subject and extra perspectives, you have to look up additional information
  • The article was published in 2005 and is therefore not that recent, you have to consult some up-to-date literature

Reliability

  • The author is dean of a university library and she is chair of the National Forum on Information Literacy. She has a lot of expertise in this field.
  • She has written numerious (scientific) articles about information literacy. The articles are often quoted.
  • The author explains that information literacy is an essential skill for the 21st century. However, al lot has to be done in school programs and curricula to ensure students of this skill.
  •  The article not only provides objective and thorough information, it also presents an opinion that is well substantiated. In your report, you would like to incorporate the view of the author
  • A professional journal perfectly meets your goal. Peer review (peer review) is not important
  • There is a good bibliography, which refers to even older literature

Conclusion

  • It is a good article and written by an expert. Still, it would be better if you also consult more recent articles or books for your report.

 

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