Authors: Authors have an advanced degree (PhD, MD, JD, or Master’s).
Language: Articles contain technical language used in the field.
Audience: Scholars, professors, students, researchers.
Tone: Objective, unemotional tone.
Purpose: To create and further knowledge in a field of study.
Publisher: Published either by universities, associations, or credible publishing companies.
Features: Charts, graphs, maps, and tables of statistics. Usually no color or graphics.
Editorial process: Articles go through a rigorous review process by a committee of others in the field (called the “peer review” process).
References: A bibliography (“Works Cited” or list of “References”) is always provided to document research and sources.
Your source does not have to meet all of these criteria, but if it doesn’t meet a majority, then it is probably not a good source for academic research.
___ The source is current enough for my topic.
___ The author uses current information (bibliography) to back up claims.
___ The information helps me answer my research questions.
___ The information is written for an academic audience.
___ The language is written at a college level.
___ I have looked at a variety of sources and have chosen the best ones.
___ The author has appropriate credentials for an academic research paper (advanced degree – PhD or Masters).
___ The author can be considered an “expert” in his or her field.
___ The publisher has a good reputation for accurate information.
___ The author cites his or her sources.
___ The author does not make claims without backing them up.
___ The tone appears to be objective and rational.
___ The source is free of spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors.
___ The information has been reviewed by an editor or has been peer reviewed.
___ The author wrote the information for the purpose of furthering knowledge or informing the public (as opposed to profit or entertainment).
___ The information is not propaganda or fear-mongering
___ The author or organization has no financial conflict of interest.
___ The author may have a point of view but has considered multiple points of view.