The Vodka Ad Test
Or a Quick Guide to Evaluating Periodical Articles
Flip your magazine or journal over. What kind of ad is on the back cover? If there is a vodka ad, car ad, or cigarette ad, this may not be considered a scholarly source. But let’s go on to more definitive measures…
Scholarly Articles have:
- Bibliography, footnotes, or endnotes. This provides evidence of the research that was conducted to produce the article.
- Written by expert(s) in the field. Usually there is information that describes the author’s credentials and current position.
- Published by Associations, Research Institutes, University Presses.
- “Peer reviewed.” Refers to the policy of experts in the field examining journal articles before acceptance for publication.
- Written in the jargon of the field for scholarly readers (professors, researchers or students.)
- Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs
Popular Magazines on the other hand:
- No footnotes or references.
- Written by journalists who are usually not experts in the field.
- Easy to read. Intended for lay audience. Informative and entertaining.
- Short articles.
- Many advertisements throughout the magazine.
- Glossy, slick. Illustrated with graphics and photos.
- Unsigned articles.
These criteria apply to all periodicals (online or print).
What about other materials?
Like critreia for evaluating periodicals, these are important criteria for internet pages and databases too.