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How to Evaluate Your Sources | SIFT for Scholarly Articles

Strategies for evaluating the information you encounter in academic research and everyday life.

In This Section

In this section, you'll find:

  • Tips for applying SIFT to scholarly articles

icon of piece of paper with a magnifying glassArticle Analysis

The steps of SIFT emphasize re-contextualizing the information presented in the source you're reading. For scholarly articles, it's also important to pick apart the article's own evidence, arguments, and conclusions.

Evaluating Scholarly Articles

INVESTIGATE the source

It's still a good idea to investigate the source of the article you're reading. Focus on the authors of the article and on the journal that published the article:

  • Is the journal peer-reviewed? Do a quick Google search of the journal title.
  • Who are the authors? What are their credentials?
  • Was the research (or even the whole journal issue) funded by an organization or corporation? (This is less common for journals in humanities fields such as history and literature.)


FIND better/other coverage

An important part of evaluating scholarly writing is determining how it aligns with or contradicts other articles on the same topic. You want to make sure you can identify all of the voices or perspectives within a scholarly conversation--this is part of your responsibility as a researcher. Read widely and consider:

  • What perspectives do other scholars bring to your topic?
  • How do their conclusions compare to those of the article you're evaluating?

magnifying glass iconTake advantage of literature reviews:

Often, this work has been started for you. Scholarly articles typically have literature review or background sections that contextualize the original research or analysis presented in the article. See if you can track down a few of the other articles that are cited in those sections.


TRACE claims to original context

For scholarly articles, we can think of "tracing claims" as verifying that the authors' conclusions stem directly from their results. Scholarly articles will typically share their research methods and results, and then analyze the raw data of their research (usually in sections titled "Discussion"). As you read, ask yourself:

  • Are the conclusions they reach supported by their results?
  • Was their research method appropriate for what they were trying to find out?
  • Do the authors consider possible limitations or problems with how the study was conducted?

magnifying glass iconScholarly articles in the humanities:

If you're reading a scholarly article from a humanities field, you won't find clearly defined sections that describe methods, results, and analysis. You might instead examine the primary sources (literature, historical documents, artwork, etc.) that the article analyzes, or see if you can track down the other analysis or commentary that the article uses in support of its own claims.