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PSYC 497 Resource Guide

Evaluate articles and websites plus link to authoriative APA style guides.

Evaluating Research Materials

Besides helpful links for APA cutation style, this page offers criteria to help you evaluate research materials:

  • Popular vs. Scholarly vs. Trade Literature
  • Evaluating Websites

Popular vs. Scholarly vs. Trade Literature

In the research databases, there are tools that help you filter your article search specifically for the source formats of scholarly journals, magazines or newspapers. Still it is helpful to know the characteristics of the periodical literature you will encounter either in print or online as you do research. Of course information from scholarly journals is the best for academic research!


Professional Journals

Popular Magazines
(and Newspapers)

Trade Publications

Article Type

In-depth research articles, often peer-reviewed; usually includes an abstract; may be brief news of developments in the field or recent research, academic book reviews

Brief, nontechnical, current events, news; quick facts; short interviews, brief book reviews, ads

Product reviews; industry statistics; new publications; patents


To provide information about, report, or present original research or experiments

To provide general information to, entertain, or persuade the general public

To provide news or information to practitioners in an industry or trade


Clearly defined; experts with significant knowledge in the subject area, scholars, and researchers

Not always identified; staff writers

Not always identified; staff writers, practitioners in the trade


Professors, researchers, and students, members of association; other professionals in the field


Intended for those with an interest in a specific industry or trade


Typically a university or professional association

Typically commercial

Typically commercial

Writing Style

Formal or semiformal; scholarly language; may use technical or specialized language

Informal; language is easy to understand

Informal; may use technical or specialized language


Footnotes or endnotes; bibliography; suggested resources for more information


Suggested resources for more information, sometimes a brief bibliography


May include tables, graphs, charts, or equations to support the research

Often includes glossy photographs, ads, images

May include black and white or color images, graphs, or charts


Sloan Management Review, Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, Journal of Computer Information Systems, Journal of American History

Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Psychology Today, PC World, Washington Post

Association Management, People Management, Federal Computer Week, Food Technology, Workforce

Evaluating What You Find on Websites

You will very rarely find information from scholarly journals on the World Wide Web.  However, the following guidelines are important to consider when evaluating web sites to use for academic research.


  • Is it clear who is responsible for the web page?
  • Is there a way of verifying the page’s sponsor? (An email address is not enough).
  • Is it clear who wrote the material?  Are their credentials clearly stated?
  • If the material is copyrighted, is the name of the copyright holder given?



  • Are the sources for any factual information clearly cited for verification?
  • Is the information clear of blatant grammatical, spelling and/or other typographical errors?
  • If there are graphs or charts are they clearly labeled?  Is source information given?



  • What is the purpose of providing the information?  (Public service, profit, or persuasion)
  • Is the information free of advertising?
  • If there is advertising is it clearly differentiated from the informational content?



  • Are there dates on the page indicating when it was written?  When it was last revised? 
  • Are there indications that the material is kept current?



  • Is there an indication that the page is complete and not still under construction?
  • If there is a print equivalent, does the page state if the entire work is on the web or only parts of it?


(These criteria based on checklist in the book Web Wisdom: How to Evaluate and Create Information Quality on the Web by Jan Alexander and Marsha Ann Tate)