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Scholarly Inquiry and Research Experience (SIRE) Program

Information Cycle

Types of Publications

Descriptions of periodicals/journals

  Examples What you'll find Authors Publisher

Scholarly / Peer Reviewed Journals

American Journal of Sociology,
Journal of Experimental Psychology
  1. Reports of original research
  2. In-depth analyses of topics
  3. Usually contain Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, and Literature Cited sections
  4. Use technical or academic vocabulary,
  5. Footnotes, bibliographies; often extensive documentation
Researchers, academics, professors, scholars Universities, scholarly presses, or academic / research organizations
Professional / Trade Journals American Teacher,
Science News
  1. Written for practitioners in applied fields
  2. Product and company information
  3. Current industry trends and practices
  4. Occasional brief bibliographies. Some sources cited in text
Professionals in the field or journalists with subject expertise Commercial publishers
or professional/ trade associations
Commentary / Opinion Journals Mother Jones,
National Review,
New Republic
  1. Social & political commentary & analysis
  2. Written from a political viewpoint (liberal, conservative)
  3. Written for a general educated audience
  4. Book reviews
  5. Occasionally cite sources in text or bibliographies
Variable: academics, journalists, spokespersons for "groups" Commercial publishers or non-profit organizations
Popular Magazines Time
  1. Entertainment, current events, hot topics, popular culture
  2. Non-technical language
  3. Written for a general audience
  4. Charts, pictures, graphs
  5. Rarely cite sources
Mainly journalists, occasionally freelance journalists Commercial publishers
Newspapers New York Times
Washington Post
  1. Current news
  2. Local & regional information
  3. Opinion and commentary
  4. Written for a general audience
  5. Rarely cite sources in full
Journalists Commercial publishers

From Southwest Minnesota State University Library: and Clark College Library:

Evaluate Your Sources

As you find sources and materials, keep in mind that their quality can vary. Learning how to evaluate information can not only help you succeed with your research assignment; it's also a critical life skill! Below are some tips you can use to help you become a savvy consumer and user of information.

Read laterally and get your bearings - Follow links, check out claims, see what other says, and see what you can find online. Don't just read the article straight through - lateral reading involves figuring out the context of the source and getting more background information on the article, who produced it, and what it is claiming. You can ask these questions to help you figure out more about your source.

  • What are you looking at? See if you can determine what kind of source or information you are seeing.
  • Who wrote this? See what you can find about the author. Check out their credentials, see what comes about them on Google. Are they qualified to talk about the topic?
  • Who published this? See what you can find out about the publisher. What is their reputation? What other types of articles and content do they publish? What do other say about them online?
  • Why was this written? Someone took the time to write and publish this information, so why did they? What might the goal be? Is the article trying to share information, or convince the reader to do something?
  • Is this useful for your research project? An article might be credible and well-written, but it might not be what you need for your project. Make sure this information will be helpful for your project and your research needs.

For additional tips, see the Health Sciences Library's Assessing Journal Credibility list