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Mechanical Engineering Technology

What is a Scholarly Article?

Learning to Evaluate Information

Evaluating information is a skill that you develop and learn to apply. Think more in terms of "it depends" instead of always.  For example,

  • Information on Web pages is not always wrong, but the information is not always right either. Web content can be produced by anyone, so it depends on the authority of the source (along with other factors).
  • Information accessible from the Internet is not always unscholarly. For example, there are scholarly articles provided by reputable publishers. There are handbooks and reports produced by government authorities. Therefore, it depends on the authority of the source (along with other factors) in this case as well.
  • Older information is not always outdated. There are subjects and topics that remain true over time, so it depends on the topic (along with other factors).
  • Information from manufacturers is not always biased. For example, manufacturers provide technical data sheets and materials safety data sheets about their products based on facts, not opinion. Therefore, it depends on the purpose of the document (along with other factors).

In the tutorials on this page, you will learn guidelines or "things to consider" when you decided if particular information is credible.

How to Evaluate Quality of the Information

Find out how to critically evaluate information from this video tutorial by Western University Libraries (2.17 min.).

The same information found in the video can be found on Evaluating Sources: The CRAAP Test opens new window by Washington State Libraries.

Determine if an Article is Relevant More Quickly

You will look and find more literature than you will use in your report. If you don't already know, you might want to learn an effective way to scan articles. When I started research, I used to read each article or document from front to back. If I determined that an article was not relevant, I still spent quite a bit of time in reading it.

If you read certain parts of the article in a different order, it will minimize the time that you spend on articles that are not relevant. There are several tutorials from other libraries on the Web that discuss this. The following video from Western University does a good job explaining how to approach reading articles efficiently (2.34 min.).

A transcript of this video is available after the video on Western Library's Web site. How to Read a Scholarly Article Transcript. opens new window