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Biology 100: Thomson: Reading & Evaluating Articles

Reading Scientific Articles

Finding Scientific Research

Note Taking

You might find it useful to use a Note Taking Template when reading a scientific journal article.

Here's a Note Taking Template for Journal Articles you can download and use on your own. (Just click "Enable Editing").

CRAAP TEST

You can find tons of information online, but how do you know if it is any good?  

Answer: Use the CRAAP test to evaluate the quality of sources you find online.

By asking yourself the questions in each category below, you'll be able to determine whether you've found a high quality source that's relevant and appropriate to your research, or whether it's time to move on to another article.

This is critical thinking!

Currency:

  • When was it published or posted?
  • Has it been updated recently?
  • Are the links functional?
  • To consider: Don't disregard a well written article that's just a few years old in favor of an article that's less relevant, less authoritative or less accurate! A peer reviewed article from a scholarly journal won't go out of date right away. Currency should be one factor, but not the only factor in your decision to use an article or not.

Relevancy:

  • Is the information in the article related to your topic/question?
  • Who is the intended audience? (Academic/General public/Other)
  • Can you find better information in another source?

Authority:

  • Who is the author and what are their credentials?
  • Is contact information listed?
  • What does the URL reveal about the source? (.edu, .gov, .org, etc...)
  • Is the article from a peer reviewed journal? (What's that mean?) If so, the journal editor(s) will already have determined that the author(s) of your article is an expert in their field of study. In other words, they have the authority to be writing on the topic.

Accuracy:

  • Did they cite their sources? 
  • Can you verify any of the info in other sources?
  • Is the information free of typos?

Purpose:

  • Is the purpose of the information to inform, sell, persuade, teach?
  • What are the biases? 
  • Is the informational content easily distinguised from the advertising content?