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POLI_SCI_395: Political Research Seminar (Alter): Evaluate Information

Evaluating Information

Consider the ACT UP criteria as you review search results and select sources for your research.  These criteria work for all formats (websites, articles, books, videos, and more).


Questions to Ask


  • Who (person, organization, company) created the source?
  • What are their credentials/affiliation or experience that qualify them on this topic?
  •  What editorial process was used to disseminate this resource? Peer review? Journalism?
  • If a website, does the URL provide insight? Examples .gov, .edu, .com, .org, .net


  • Does your topic require current information? If so, when was the source written and published?
  • Has the information been revised or updated recently?


  • How accurate is the information? Can you verify the claims in other resources?
  • Has the information been reviewed? Is there a bibliography?
  • What type of evidence is used to support claims or arguments?


  • Is the information presented to impact your emotions or your reason?
  • Is the purpose to sell? To teach? To persuade? To entertain?
  • Does the point of view appear objective or unbiased?


  • Check the privilege of the author(s). Who is missing from the conversation?
  • Critically evaluate the subject terms associated with each resource you find. How are they described? What are the inherent biases?
  • What is the purpose of the publication? To sell, teach, persuade or entertain?
Adapted from Dawn Stahura, "ACT UP: Evaluating Sources," accessed March 22, 2018,

Not all "articles" are the same! They have different purposes and different "architecture".

  • Original article – information based on original research
  • Case reports – usually of a single case
  • Technical notes -  describe a specific technique or procedure
  • Pictorial essay – teaching article with images
  • Review – detailed analysis of recent research on a specific topic
  • Commentary – short article with author’s personal opinions
  • Editorial – often short review or critique of original articles
  • Letter to the Editor – short & on subject of interest to readers

Peh, WCG and NG, KH. (2008) "Basic Structure and Types of Scientific Papers."
Singapore Medical Journal, 48 (7) : 522-525. accessed 4/24/19.

When reading peer reviewed or academic articles, do not read them straight through!  Instead, read the sections in the order that will best help you understand and analyze the content in relation to your own research question.

  • Read articles more than once. 
  • Read first for the big picture, then go back and re-read for the details. 
  • Look up words/concepts that are unfamiliar. 
  • Take notes in your own words, perhaps as answers to the questions posed below.

Chart derived from “How to Read and Comprehend Scientific Research Articles”,
a short video produced by the University of Minnesota Libraries