When evaluating scholarly articles, use the following "5Ws" test to help evaluate the information you find. Download an ABC worksheet.
Who: The author of the information
- Who is the author?
- What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
- Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
- What else can you find out about the author?
What: The nature of the information
- Does the information seem logical?
- Is it too good to be true?
- Is it well-written, or does it have grammar, spelling, and syntax problems?
- Is it presented in a scientific manner?
When: The timeliness of the information
- When was the information published or posted?
- When was the information last revised? Is there a copyright date or date the page was last updated?
- Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
Where: The source of the information
- Has the information been peer- reviewed, refereed or edited by an editor?
- Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
- What is the reputation of the publication?
- Is it a legitimate journal? A predatory journal? A fake?
Why: The reason the information exists
- Why does the information exist? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
- Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
- Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
- Does the point of view appear objective and impartial? Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
- Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?