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NUTR 439/539: Communications in Dietetics

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

Reading a scholarly article can seem daunting at first. Scholarly articles are long and have a lot of data. If you break down the article into components, it will make it easier to read and understand.

For a quick overview, click on the link below to see an example of a scholarly article and its parts.

parts of a scholarly article

Evaluating Articles

Not everything you find will be of high quality or appropriate to your topic. You need to carefully evaluate your sources before incorporating them into your research. Ask yourself some questions:

  • Is the article peer reviewed (also called refereed?)
  • Is there an author listed as part of the citation? What is the authority of the author and source? Is the author an expert? Does s/he work for a reputable university or organization?
  • Are there biases in the publication?
  • Judge the relevance to your subject and the discipline.
  • Is the information current? Does your subject require it to be?
  • How old is the source? Will this matter for your topic? Currency of information can be important. Some aspects of a topic may need currency more than others.
  • Does the source have a bibliography? This can lead you to other sources.
  • What other terminology is being used either by the author or by the database? Keep an eye out for other words you can use in your search statements.
  • Do the OSU Libraries own the journal (either in print or electronically)? If we don't own it, it will take more time to get your hands on the source.

Evaluating Websites

Applying the CRAAP Test:  The CRAAP Test is a list of questions you can ask yourself in order to determine if the information on a web site is reliable. Please keep in mind that the following list of questions is not static nor is it complete. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need.

Currency: The timeliness of the web page. If relevant, when was the information gathered? When was it posted? When was it last revised? Are links functional and up-to-date? Is there evidence of newly added information or links?
Relevance/Coverage: The uniqueness of the content and its importance for your needs. What is the depth and breadth of the information presented? Is the information unique? Is it available elsewhere, in print or electronic format? Could you find the same or better information in another source? Who is the intended audience? Is this easily determined? Does the site provide the information you need? Your overall assessment is important. Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?
Authority: The source of the web page. Who is the author/creator/sponsor? Are author's credentials listed? Is the author a teacher or student of the topic? Does the author have a reputation? Is there contact information, such as an e-mail address? Has the author published works in traditional formats? Is the author affiliated with an organization? Does this organization appear to support or sponsor the page? What does the domain name/URL reveal about the source of the information, if anything? Example: .com .edu .gov .org .net
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content. Where does the information come from? Are the original sources of information listed? Can you verify any of the information in independent sources or from your own knowledge? Has the information been reviewed or refereed? Does the language or tone seem biased? Are there spelling, grammar, or other typos?
Purpose: The presence of bias or prejudice/The reason the web site exists. Are possible biases clearly stated? Is advertising content vs. informational content easily distinguishable? Are editorials clearly labeled? Is the purpose of the page stated? Is the purpose to: inform? teach? entertain? enlighten? sell? persuade? What does the domain name/URL reveal about the source of the information, if anything? Example: .com .edu .gov .org .net

*Modified version of CRAAP Test created by Meriam Library at California State University, Chico.