Applied Human Nutrition

Applied Human Nutrition

Presentation Resources

Evaluating (scholarly) information

Part 1:  Evaluating (scholarly) information

General points to consider (see full details under blue tab titled "Critical Evaluation of Sources")

  • Authority:  authors, co-authors, publishers, funders, institution
  • Objectivity:  goal, bias, assumptions, advertising, sources
  • Quality: publication outlet, organization of info, appropriate language, lit review
  • Coverage & Corroboration:  current sources, new info, citations in context, adequate evidence
  • Currency:  topic is current or updated
  • Relevance:  audience, scholarly/professional/popular, publication format

Other Tools:  

Reviewing scholarly journal articles

Points to consider when reviewing scholarly articles¹:


  • Does the author clearly define a research problem or topic?
  • Is its significance explained? Are core issues or research variables identified?
  • Is specialized terminology usefully defined?
  • Does the author provide an adequate literature review?
  • Does it discuss current research on the problem, and help to situate the author’s own research?
  • Are the research objectives clearly stated? Are hypotheses or specific research questions identified?


  • Does the author clearly identify the research methodology and any associated limitations of the research design?
  • Are participants described, including the method of sample selection if appropriate?
  • Are instruments adequately described, including issues of appropriateness, validity and reliability?
  • Do any evident biases or ethical considerations arise in relation to the methodology?
  • Are the methods for measuring results clearly explained and appropriate?


  • Are the author's major findings clearly presented?
  • Do they adequately address the stated research objectives?
  • Are supporting data presented? Are tables, graphs or figures helpful and well integrated with the text?


  • Do the research results validate the author’s conclusions and/or recommendations?
  • Are alternative conclusions and/or limitations of the research considered?
  • Is there discussion of any variance between the author’s research and prior research findings?
  • Does the author’s research suggest any direction for further research?
  • Is the practical or theoretical significance of the research emphasized?
  • Does the author recommend the revision of theory or practice in the field?

Concluding your review

  • Considering the needs and interests of a typical reader of the journal in which the article appears, provide your personal judgment on the suitability and adequacy of the research. Distinguish between the overall quality of the research project and the report of it as presented in the journal article.
  • Is the research timely and worthwhile?
  • Is the research design appropriately inclusive and/or sensitive to the cultural context?
  • Are you aware of any significant omissions or errors that might affect the validity or reliability of the research?
  • Are the results original and significant?
  • Does the author provide fresh insight or stimulate needed discussion in the field?
  • Is the article well structured?
  • Are the sections of appropriate length?
  • Do the author’s style and language maintain interest and clarity?
  • Is the presentation unbiased, objective and reasonable?
  • Is the author respectful of participants and the work of other researchers?

(¹Modified from University of Alberta:

No longer at the Mount?

Doing research when no longer an MSVU student (or open access sources)

PubMed: PubMed comprises more than 22 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.

PubMed Central: PMC is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM).  This is a sub-set of PubMed.

Cochrane Library: available from the Halifax Public Library Website and is accessible with your public library borrowing card (barcode number):  This collection publishes the Cochrane Reviews, which are “systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognized as the highest standard in evidence-based health care.”

Google Scholar:  Some links to free full-text.  Acts as a citation index in that it indicates how many times an article has been cited.  

Public Library of Science:  A nonprofit advocacy organization that publishes peer reviewed journal articles in the fields of science and medicine. 

Academic Libraries:  while off-campus access to database is usually not available, you should be able to visit any academic library and use resources from a public workstation.


Literature Reviews

Critical Evaluation of Sources

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