Thématique: Evaluating sources
Quality criteria for a scientific article
The art of choosing your paper
  • Apply the criteria to evaluate the quality of a scientific article
An article published in a peer reviewed journal… (select one answer)
has more than one author
was reviewed by scientists before being published
must be written in English
cannot be accessed for free on the web
Organize the sections of a scientific article in their customary order:
Materials and methods
Anna found this article in the PNAS journal (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

Image of a scientific paper
Can she use it for her paper? (select one answer)
No, because it’s not a serious topic.
No, because for a scientific topic, the article is too old.
Yes, because PNAS is a scientific journal and it only publishes articles reviewed by peers.
Yes, because the articles don’t start with an introduction.
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Thanks to Jules, Anna now knows that articles are not all equal, and the importance of evaluating their quality before using them to support a paper.

Scientific journals use a process called peer review to publish articles, requiring the article to be read and reviewed by other scientists in the same field before it is published.

Here are some criteria to consider when evaluating the quality of a scientific article:

  • Author: Is he/she an authority in the field? Which academic institution does he/she work for?
  • Editor: Is the editor/journal generalist or specialized? Are the articles reviewed by peers?
  • Publication date: Is the article still current? Are the data and method still current?
  • Bibliographic references: Are they numerous and varied (watch out for self-citation)? Are they clear and complete?
  • Structure and style: Are the language and style nuanced? Do they seem objective? The article should include the following points:
    1. abstract
    2. introduction
    3. methods
    4. results
    5. discussion
    6. conclusion
    7. references