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SPH511 Research Skills Guide: Evaluating an article from its record

A brief record in an EBSCOhost database

When you get results from a search in a journal database, you usually get a list of results in the form of brief records.

Below is screen-shot of a brief record of an article in an EBSCOhost database. As well as standard bibliographic information such as article title, author, journal title, and number of pages, there is other information that might help with judging the article's quality and relevance:

  • EBSCOhost indicates that it's an academic journal. But this is an indication only, and we would need to check that it's a peer-reviewed journal (see Is it peer-reviewed?)
  • The year of publication is important
  • The subject-headings give a clue as to the subject content of the article.

From this record, you can:

  • Click on the title link to see the full (detailed) record [see also below]
  • Mouseover the magnifying-glass icon to preview the full record.
  • Mouseover the folder icon to add the record to a folder.
  • Click on the full-text link to get the full article.



A full record in an EBSCOhost database

In most databases, the full record of an article gives you even more information about it. Some of this is also useful to judge its quality and relevance. In particular, you might be able to:

  • see the full list of subject headings. As well as using these as a summary of subject content, you can also use them as search terms in subsequent searches!
  • read the abstract (summary) of the article. This is an important way to preview the article without reading it in full.
  • check things like Publication Type, Journal Subset, and Special Interest. These are not always available, but can give quick clues as to the article's content and coverage.
  • check any author affiliations. As we have seen, this is an important measure of an article's validity.
  • get the DOI. This is not always available, but can be used in APA referencing.


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