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PSYCH 301W: Basic Research Methods in Psychology (Camodeca)

Research guide for Lab 1 and Lab 2 in Dr. Camdodeca's PSYCH 301W class at Beaver

Evaluation: Sifting Through Sources

The sources you use lend you the author's credibility and understanding of the subject--so find a knowledgeable expert! Research articles also provide you with evidence for the statements you are trying to make in your own writing.

When using scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles, the emphasis of evaluation is on the content and currency. A simple way to evaluate any information is to consider its credibility, content, and currency (the 3 C's). Consider:

  • Content of the article
    • Does it attempt to answer your research question? Does it tell you something new?
    • Will it be interesting for you to read? 
    • If you could have anything, is this exactly what you were looking for? 
  • Currency of the article
    • Was the article published recently? Does it reflect the current research and findings on the subject?
    • When considering currency of scholarly journal articles, remember they are typically published quarterly (4 times/year) and it can be one year or more between the time the research is conducted and an article about it is published.
  • Credibility of the author or publication in which the article appears
    • Who wrote the article? What makes them an authority or expert on the subject?
      • Google the author to find out what makes him or her an expert. Advanced degree(s) in the subject area? History of publications on the topic? Employed by a reputable university/college or educational/research organization?
    • What is the type/reputation of the source?
      • Read the "About" section for a journal, magazine, or other website to learn about the scope and mission of the publication. For example, read the description of Developmental Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.
      • For more about different types of publications, see this chart describing scholarly, popular, and trade publications.

How to Read (and Understand) an Academic Paper