Quality Of Journal Articles – Tips To Determine It

09.01.23 Sources tips Time to read: 5min

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When writing a thesis or research proposal, you must support your intended research by preparing a literature review. A literature review looks into earlier research on the subject and is usually available as scientific articles or publications.  This article discusses the quality of journal articles you can use for your literature review. Journal articles serve as one of the most critical conduits in the dissemination of academic knowledge. Therefore, the quality of these articles plays a pivotal role.

The Quality of Journal Articles – In a Nutshell

  • The quality of journal articles determines the strength of your research.
  • Using well-respected journals shows that your research conclusions will be trustworthy.
  • Supervisors check the journals articles from which you draw your conclusions from.
  • There is a higher risk for poor grades if you fail to check the quality of journal articles.
  • This article provides tips for determining the quality of journal articles.

Definition: The quality of journal articles

A journal article is scientific or scholarly research published in a peer-reviewed educational journal. The research is usually written by a professional and reviewed by their peers in the same field before publication. A quality journal article serves as the highest-quality source of information on a specific topic, as it takes time and effort to write and is often well organized. Additionally, quality journal articles are usually longer than magazine articles but shorter than books. Using high-quality journal articles is important for drawing founded conclusions in your research.


Perret, Penton-Voak, IS, Burt, D.M, Rowland, D.A (199). Symmetry and Human Facial Attractiveness. Evolution and Human Behavior, 20, 295-307.

The quality of journal articles – What to look for

Various factors determine the quality of journal articles. Knowing what to look for in the article is the key to finding the highest-quality journal articles for your thesis or research proposal. Below are some key things you should always look for in a journal article.

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The author

One of the first things you should consider when looking at journal articles is the person who wrote them. Start by asking yourself what you know about the author:

  • What other contributions has the author made in the specific field?
  • What do others in the sector say about the author?

Researching the author, including his academic background, will help you determine the quality of the journal articles.


The lead author of the article in our example is Perret. He conducted a study of predictors of attractiveness. Penton-Voak, another collaborator, also has a lot on his resume. They collaborated on various studies. However, there is not much public information regarding the other authors.

The date of publication

Regarding the publication year, recent research is always a wiser choice. While older research can be useful, its conclusions may not be relevant for the current time. If you must use older research, it would be wise to check for any follow-up research.

Google Scholar is a great source of scholarly journal articles. This option allows you to filter your search results by time.


Our sample journal article was published more than two decades ago. However, a few follow-up journal articles on the same topic were done in the past two decades. So, as long as it is all related, you can use the 1999 article as the foundation for finding more information on this research.

Where is it published

The area where the academic journal is published also says a lot about its quality.

For instance, if the article is published by a known and respected publication in a specific field, you can rely on it. However, the contrary is also true. Academic publications are usually ranked in the JQL (journal quality list). They are categorized by the professional field. So, when an article is ranked highly, it indicates high quality.


Our sample journal article is not ranked on the JQL. Instead, it is published in the Evolution and Human Behavior journal. Upon further research, you can find the journal ranked at the top of psychology articles on multiple sources. This speaks to the quality of journal articles.

Number of citations

The number of researchers and professionals cited in the article is also worth looking into. A highly cited article is typically of high quality.


Our sample article has been cited over 300 times. Most, if not all, of the citers, are experts in the specific research field. Also, most of its citations support its conclusions and do not criticize them.

Note: Researchers and professionals will rarely cite low-quality works. Additionally, the number of citations will tell you what other experts in the field think about it.

The quality of journal articles – CRAAP test

CRAAP test is an acronym for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. This test analyzes the five elements above to determine the quality of journal articles. It provides a list of questions you should ask when determining whether the quality of journal articles is high enough for your academic research paper.

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You can test the quality of journal articles using the CRAAP test. It gives you questions about the article currency, relevance, accuracy, authority, and purpose so you can determine the quality of journal articles.

Checking the quality of journal articles for your research ensures that your paper is based on well-founded information. It also makes your findings more reliable and accurate.

When evaluating the quality of journal articles, you should check the reputation of the authors, the authority of the publishing site, and the number of citations.

Recent articles are more reliable because their findings are based on current things and occurrences in a specific field.