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NUTR 312: Issues in Nutrition and Health

Evaluating Sources

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.

Identifying Peer Review Sources

Using research that has been evaluated by other experts in the field (peer reviewed or refereed) is an efficient way of finding research of value. Some ways to identify if the research is peer-reviewed:

  • Use the database: some databases consist entirely (or almost entirely) of peer-reviewed literature (for example:Sociological AbstractsAbstracts in Anthropology, ERIC, PsycInfo).
  • Many databases allow you to LIMIT your search to peer-reviewed or scholarly literature (for example: 1Search, EBSCO databases like Academic Search Premier).
  • Check the journal's editorial policy statement for an explicit statement (generally small print at the front of the issue, or visit the journal's web page). Look for a list of editors, which can be an implicit indication of peer review.
  • Ask a librarian for assistance.

Anatomy of a Scholarly Research Article

Reading scholarly research articles can be challenging. These articles are written by experts for other experts and convey the results of original research conducted by the authors. Scholarly research articles (also sometimes called peer-reviewed articles or refereed articles) use language that can be hard to understand. But once you understand the parts of the article, reading it may be a bit easier. Science and social science research articles usually include the following parts:  introduction, literature review, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. Take a look at this Anatomy of a Scholary Article (from NCSU) to learn more about each part of a scholarly research article. Click on each section for an explanation of that section.