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PLANT 171 - Soils in the Environment

Evaluating Information Resources

♦ Scholarly journal articles are written by and for people in the same and related academic or professional fields, and use terminology specific to the field.
♦ They aim to contribute to the scholarly conversation by advancing knowledge.
♦ They are usually peer-reviewed (aka "refereed") or undergo an editorial review by specialists in the discipline or profession.
♦ They carefully document (cite) their sources, and this list of cited references may point to other sources of information relevant to your topic.
♦ Scholarly journal articles also may include links to files with useful supplementary information.

Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory
Search for your journal title to see if it is scholarly/academic and refereed (peer-reviewed).

Scholarly journals include articles that are reports and discussions of the results of original research, are written by those who carried out the studies, and are based on the results of their experiments or observations.

These articles are also called primary research articles.

Typical Format of a Primary Research Article

  • Abstract: summary of what the study is about, how the research was conducted, what the findings are.
  • Introduction and Literature Review: background of problem, reasons for/objectives of the study, prior research & literature on the topic.
  • Materials & Methods:  how the study was conducted, procedures
  • Results: what was found
  • Discussion & Conclusion: Interpretation of the results, summary of important findings & their meaning to the field; sometimes what the limitations of the study are and need for future research.
  • References
  • [Often include] Appendices or Supplemental Information FIles

CRAAP Test  is it good information?  A list of questions from CSU Chico
Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose.


Evaluating Journal Articles

1. Does the journal include peer-reviewed articles?

Now look at the article itself:

2. Is it a primary research article?

Even if you determined that the journal in which an article was published is scholarly, these journals usually also contain other types of articles such as editorials, commentary, research briefs and news.  
    ♦ Clues you might find in the abstract include words such as:
      study, results, methods/methodology, data, experimental, field trial
     ♦ Look at the format of the article. Does it follow the "typical format"?

3. Consider the Publication Date:
Is the article sufficiently up-to-date for your purpose?

4. Is it Relevant?
Does this information relate to your topic or answer your question?