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Research Help: Evaluating Resources

Using some tips courtesy of Purdue OWL

What is a Scholarly Resource?

Scholarly sources are accurate, authoritative, and current resources on your research topic. Scholarly sources can be found in a variety of formats but they share similar characteristics regardless of their format. The chart below can be used as a tool when evaluating sources.




Professionals, Professors, Graduate Students, Research Community


The author is usually an expert or specialist in their field; name and credentials are always provided.


A bibliography and/or footnotes are always present to credit and document sources of information used in the included articles.

Editors/Review of Articles

Scholarly articles are usually reviewed and evaluated by a board of experts ("editorial board") in the field. This is known as "peer-reviewed" or "refereed." There may be a list of reviewers on the first few pages.


The publication has a narrow focus and targets a specific audience.


Graphs, maps, statistics, or photographs that support the articles. These publications typically have few ads.


The language is serious in tone and includes specialized knowledge or vocabulary.  Field-specific language/jargon, requires reader to be in touch with other research in the field.

Length / Type of Information

Publications include usually longer articles that present original research and original interpretation of data or in-depth analysis of topics.


The journal is published by a scholarly association or publishing house.


Journal of African American Studies, Comparative Literature, The American Journal of Science

Evaluating Websites

Although information is easily available on the internet, websites still needs to be evaluated critically. In addition to the general guidelines for evaluating scholarly resources, the following questions can be used to help evaluate websites.

  • Who is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the website?

  • Are other information and links provided?

  • Is the site subject to influences over content, e.g., a commercial organization, a political organization?

  • Are the pages current and updated regularly?

  • Is the site user-friendly? Is there an index or site map or other navigation links to the site information?

  • Is the layout of the site professional or amateurish?

Useful Websites

Video Tutorial - Evaluating Websites