7. Finding Articles: How useful is the article for your needs?
Now that you have the article, is it appropriate to use for your need? Think of the five Ws when evaluating an article to determine if it is
appropriate for your needs:
Who wrote the article?
Does this author seem to have appropriate credentials to write on
this topic? Sometimes a brief biography of the author is included with
the article. You can also look for items written by the same author. See
tips for finding out more
about the author.
Note that everyone has to have a first publication - do not discount
something only because the author is new to the field.
When was the article published?
If the topic of your research is time-sensitive, you
should consider the age and currency of any sources that you use.
Some disciplines/topics often require you to focus on recent research.
If your topic is one that is producing new research or something that is
prominent in the general news, you may want to consider using primarily
Many science areas are well-known for
primarily citing new items:
Source: Journal Citation Reports
Many areas in the humanities, in contrast, may not be so concerned about
the age of the article. This varies, of course, depending on
topic. A student's paper on the properties of titanium may cite
articles older than a paper on the latest Nobel Prize in Literature
Where was the article published?
In what publication does your article appear? The
appropriateness of the source is affected by your need. If you are
writing a short paper for a writing class, a magazine article may be
sufficient. If you are writing a longer paper and require more
in-depth research, a peer-reviewed journal article may be more
Use a periodicals directory to learn more about the
characteristics of a particular magazine or journal. One of the most
comprehensive directories is
Ulrich's Periodicals Directory (OSU only).
Ulrich's indicates the type of publication (trade,
academic/scholarly, consumer/popular), who publishes it, and provides a
brief description of content, and has short reviews for many
periodicals, as shown in the illustration below.
A scholarly journal:
You may also look for the magazine or journal's home page online.
Look for such links as scope or