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ECO352H5: Special Topics in Economics: The Financial Crisis and the Actions of the Central Banks

Evaluating Sources

It is essential to critically evaluate the source materials you find. Not all sources, whether electronic or print, provide trustworthy information. 

Appropriate source materials for your assignments include scholarly books and articles, as well as websites such as government and company websites. 

HINT: It’s often easier to find relevant, quality scholarly books and articles through the library’s resources! Find useful resources for your term paper assignment in the 'Suggested Resources' section of this guide (see menu of the left). 

Identifying Scholarly Articles

Popular articles...

  • Are written by journalists or professional writers
  • Are written for a general, non-scholarly audience
  • Use language easily understood by general readers
  • Tend to be shorter
  • Rarely cite sources
  • Do not have abstracts
  • May refer to research but is not intended for scholarly communication

On the other hand, scholarly articles...

  • Are written by experts (faculty, researchers, scholars), with credentials provided
  • Are written for experts
  • Use technical language that is discipline-specific
  • Tend to be longer
  • Include a bibliography or references
  • Usually have an abstract
  • Report results of original research or analyzes or interprets other research

There is one more key difference between scholarly and popular articles: scholarly articles are often peer-reviewed.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Many, but not all scholarly articles are peer-reviewed. Peer review is a process that evaluates the quality of articles submitted for publication. The evaluation is done by a panel of experts - or peers of the author – and the review process can be quite lengthy (articles can go through multiple rounds of review and even then, not be accepted for publication).

Peer-reviewers evaluate the article on:

  • Originality of the research: what new findings or insights does it present?
  • Validity of the research: are the findings reasonable?  What evidence supports the conclusions drawn?
  • Methodology: is the methodology sound? Appropriate?
  • Significance: what is the impact? How does it advance knowledge within a given discipline

Peer review functions like a kind of quality assurance process. In theory, it ensures only the best research is published in a given journal.