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English Language and Literature

Library resources in English Language and Literature

Evaluating Resources

Criteria to always keep in mind when evaluating information. These criteria can be applied to information both online and in print.


Who wrote it? What are their credentials or affiliations?


Who is it written for? What kind of language is used?


What is the purpose? To inform? Sell? Sway your opinion?


Is the information presented objectively?


When was it published or written?


How relevant is it to your topic?


Is the information either too specific or too general for your purposes?

What is a Scholarly or Peer Reviewed Journal?

Scholarly / Peer-Reviewed Journals focus on a specific discipline or field and are edited by a jury of experts or scholars in that field. These editorial boards review each article that is submitted to the journal, publishing only those that abide by professional research standards in the given discipline. If a scholarly or academic journal doesn’t require a peer-review juried process, there are still rigorous guidelines that the article must meet to be included in the journal.

Main Purpose / Intent:

To inform other scholars and researchers about original research and new discoveries.


  • Authors are scholars and researchers in the field, and are typically not paid for publishing the article.
  • Always cite their sources / provide references.
  • Author’s affiliations are clearly identified, and are usually with academic, research, and non-profit institutions.
  • There is almost always an abstract or descriptive summary at the beginning of the article.
  • The articles are written in language that assumes the audience has expertise or familiarity with the given subject area.
  • There are not very many photographs; typically the illustrations are charts, graphs, or other visual evidence that relates to the discussion.
  • Usually there are no advertisements in the journal, and if there are any, there are very few and they are for products or equipment specific to the particular field or discipline.

JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association
Chemical Engineering Communications
Theoretical and Applied Climatology
American Economic Review
Nineteenth-Century Literature
Educational Research

Other types of publications

Professional / Trade Journals

Main Purpose / Intent:
To share industry trends, experiences, and practical information with other professionals in a particular field.


  • Often published by professional organizations.
  • Authors are professionals within a specific field, writing for an audience who shares the profession or expertise.
  • The language is specific to the field and may contain jargon, but it is frequently less technical and more accessible than that of a scholarly journal.
  • Articles are not necessarily about research, may discuss industry trends or recommended tips and techniques.
  • Articles may provide references or citations, but not always.
  • Frequently have many photos and illustrations, similar to a popular magazine or news source.

Environmental Design and Construction
Chemical & Engineering News
American Libraries
New Media Age

Credible / Substantive News

Main Purpose / Intent:
To inform.


  • Published by commercial enterprises, individuals, or professional organizations.
  • Authors are either members of an editorial staff, scholars, or freelance writers.
  • Articles are typically more in-depth than in popular magazines.
  • Authors sometimes cite sources, but not always.
  • Scope of publication usually covers a range of topics.
  • The language is for anyone who is interested in the information; the audience does not need a particular level of expertise.

New York Times
Wall Street Journal
National Geographic
Scientific American

Popular Magazines

Main Purpose / Intent:
To entertain, to sell products, or to portray a particular viewpoint.


  • Scope of the magazine covers a very wide array of subjects.
  • Authors almost never cite their sources, and most of the information is reported in other publications first.
  • Articles are short and not particularly in-depth. The language is very easy to read.
  • Authors are usually freelance writers or staff writers; they are always paid for their work.
  • Many advertisements are included throughout the publication. There are also many glossy photographs.

Sports Illustrated
Rolling Stone
Reader's Digest

Subject Guide

Anna Bjartmarsdottir's picture
Anna Bjartmarsdottir

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