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AFRS 366: Colonialism in Africa

Evaluate Scholarly Sources

What are Scholarly/Academic/Peer-reviewed Sources?

Scholarly/academic/peer-reviewed sources are sources written by experts and are reviewed by experts in the field before the article is published.

 

Why Do I Need to Evaluate Scholarly Sources?

You may consider scholars with subject expertise have authority in the area of your research topic and thus produce only good sources. However, like all types of sources and authorities, scholarly sources vary a lot by date, scope, method, and etc, making only some of them appropriate to cite in your research. Scholarly sources may have totally valid evidence but not so relevant to your research. 

 

How Do I Evaluate Scholarly Sources?

Finding a good scholarly source to use can sometimes be a messy process, but below are some questions you can ask yourself in order to determine if the academic article is worth using in your research.

  • Date: Some topics, such as those in the health sciences, require current information. Other subjects, such as geology, value older material as well as current. Know the time needs of your topic and examine the timeliness of the article; is it:
    • up-to-date,
    • out-of-date, or
    • timeless?
  • Usefulness: Is the article relevant to the current research project? A well-researched, well-written, etc. article is not going to be helpful if it does not address the topic at hand. Ask, "is this article useful to me?" If it is a useful article, does it:
    • support an argument
    • refute an argument
    • give examples (survey results, primary research findings, case studies, incidents)
    • provide "wrong" information that can be challenged or disagreed with productively
  • Impact: Scholars have combined standard research metrics, like scholarly output and citation counts, into formulas to measure and assess author and journal impact in new ways. There are usually different types of metrics for different purposes, but in general, you can pay attention to
    • the number of times an article was cited to evaluate the scholarly output of a scholar
    • the number of times articles published for a journal to evaluate the impact of a journal
    • metrics in databases as shown below

 

More information about factors to consider when evaluating scholarly articles

More information about understanding impact 

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