- What type of publication is the article from? Newspapers, magazines, and academic journals have different purposes. Was the article written to educate, inform or entertain?
- Is the article objective or does the text show a bias? Is it trying to persuade the reader? Editorials, op-ed pieces, and commentary will almost always present an opinion or bias, but other articles may too. Those types of articles can be useful if your assignment requires you to present different viewpoints.
- Read the abstract or the introduction as well as the conclusion of the article and keep the reason the text was written in mind as you read.
- Check for information about the authors at beginning or the end of the article. You could also try entering their names in an online search engine.
- What are the authors’ credentials? Are they journalists, experts in the field, or do they hold a Master’s or PhD degree? Are they associated with a university or organization?
- Do you think their credentials are sufficient for them to be qualified to talk about this topic in particular?
- Do you need the most recent information possible for your assignment? For an ancient history project, the currency of your sources may not be as important as it would be for a paper on digital technology.
- Articles are a good choice of source when you need information on current events since their publication process is shorter than that of books.
- When was the article published? Look for the publication information at the top or bottom of the page.
- How recent are the references cited by the author? You’ll find these in the notes, bibliography or references section.
- Check for in-text citations or footnotes. Is there a list of notes, references or a bibliography?
- Are graphs, charts, and statistics provided to back up the author’s claims?
- Have you seen this information in a different source during your research? Does the text agree in general with these other sources?
- Are there many spelling or grammar errors in the text? Too many errors could lead you to doubt the accuracy of the information.
- Make sure that your source is relevant to your research before using it.
- Articles sometimes discuss very narrow subject areas. As such, you won’t always find articles on your exact topic. It’s ok to only use part of an article, like a specific paragraph that relates to your subject.