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Nursing Undergraduate Student Library Research Guide: Evaluating the publication

Information to support undergraduate students as they become proficient users of library resources and services

Evaluating the publication

Ask yourself some questions about the publication:

         For print sources, especially journals/journal articles:

                Are the author’s name and credentials given?

                    Who is the intended audience for the journal?  Fellow researcher/scientists?  Interested lay people?  The general public? 

                    What is the journal or the journal article’s appearance?  Can you tell if the journal cover is plain or glossy and attractive?  (Sometmes the cover displays when you connect to an article in the issue.)  Are there color photographs and illustrations?  Does the article contain graphs and tables?

                    What is the article content like?  Is it a research report?  Is the article long or short?  What about the language?  Is it technical?  Technical terms with some definitions?  Simple language?

                    What is the extent of accountability?  Has the author built on the work of others and given them credit in an extensive bibliography? 


        For websites:

                 What is the domain abbreviation given in the extension?  Government (.gov) and educational (.edu) sites are considered the most reliable.  The domain extension, .org, can also indicate a reliable site although you must apply your evaluation skills.  The website may or may not come from a non-profit organization such as a professional association or research group.

                    Who is the source of the website?  Have you heard of the group before?  Does the source’s purpose seem to fit in with the type of information you’re looking for?  Is an author’s name included?  Who is responsible for the content?

                    Does the website have information about its purpose?  A section on the sidebar such as “About us,” “Philosophy,” or “Background?”

                    When was the website last updated?

                    Is there evidence of accountability for the information on the website?  Footnotes or references?  Links to other websites that you have examined for reliability?

                    Does the website present objective information?


Life Sciences Librarian

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