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REA 112 - Northwest - Credible Sources: 2. Credible Articles

The 5Ws Test: Guidelines for Evaluating Scholarly Articles

When evaluating scholarly articles, use the following "5Ws" test to help evaluate the information you find. Download an ABC worksheet.

WhoThe 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?

WhatThe 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?

Feline Reactions to Bearded Men (Exercise)

Feline Reactions to Bearded Men

Chocolate Studies (Exercise)

Compare these articles and list 3 factors for each one why you think it exhibits good or bad science.