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Psychology 210

Evaluating sources

You should carefully evaluate all information, whether from a book, article, or website, by asking the following questions:

  • Who?  Who is the author of this source?
    • Are they qualified to write/speak on the subject?
    • Do you detect any bias on the author’s part in relation to the subject?
  • What? What is the source?
    • Does it have a title?
    • Is it a primary source, such as an original document or creative work or is it a secondary source, such as a report or analysis of primary sources?
    • Is it authoritative or trustworthy?
  • How?
    • How was the source produced?
    • Who is the publisher or sponsoring organization?
  • Where did you find the source?
    • Was it through a library’s databases or through an internet search engine that may list results in a biased or weighted manner?
  • When was the source published? 
    • Has it been replaced or updated?

MLA Handbook. 8th ed., The Modern Language Association, 2016, pp. 11-12.



So why use a library database?


SC4 Library Databases

Finding articles from magazines, journals, and newspapers on specific topics is most efficiently accomplished by using a periodical database or OneSearch. 

The library databases will tell you where the information came from: a book, magazine, journal, newspaper, or video, for example.  They will also tell you the original date of publication/production. This information is called the citation.  Be sure to write down or copy and paste all of the information listed below whenever you read, save, or print an article so that you will have it available for your References page.

Why use a periodical database rather than a search engine such as Google to find magazine, journal, or newspaper articles? 

To save time!  You could spend one hour looking for information on your topic using a search engine on the Web and may find only one or two websites that are appropriate to use for a college-level paper.  If you spend the same amount of time searching in the periodical databases, you will usually find numerous suitable articles to use.

What is the difference between a magazine and a journal?  

Magazines are written for the general public.  They often have a lot of advertisements in them.  Journals, on the other hand, are targeted to students or professionals working in a particular field.  The usually have very few ads in them.  The articles usually include bibliographies at at the end and the author's or authors' credentials (where they went to college and where they work) are given. 

Sometimes a journal is peer-reviewed.  Peer-reviewed means that all of the articles have been read by experts in the field and approved for publication. Please see the box below for more information about peer-reviewed journals.

Peer-reviewed articles are excellent sources of information for scholarly papers!  



Scholarly journal, trade magazine, or popular magazine?








plain cover

plain paper

black/white graphics & illustrations, many charts & graphs

pages consecutive throughout each volume

cover depicts industrial setting

glossy paper

pictures & illustrations in color

each issue starts with page 1

eye-catching cover

glossy paper

pictures & illustrations in color

each issue starts with page 1


students studying in a particular field, researchers, or professionals

members of a specific business, industry, or organization



research projects, methodology, & theory

articles written by contributing authors

industry trends, new products or techniques, & organizational news

articles written by staff or contributing authors

personalities, news, & general interest articles

articles written by staff, may be unsigned


peer reviewed/refereed

bibliographies included

editorial review

may have short bibliographies

editorial review

no bibliographies


very few or no ads

all or most of the ads are trade related

many ads throughout


Critical Care Nurse

Current Psychology

Journal of Small Business Management

Literature-Film Quarterly

Business Marketing

Dairy Farmer

Hospital Law Newsletter

Nursing Times


Ladies Home Journal

New York

Psychology Today

Sports Illustrated