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Information Literacy Modules
  • What is a magazine?

    Magazines are published regularly (periodically). A magazine is intended for a general audience and contains:

    • Articles written for non-experts
    • Analysis of current events
    • Personal narratives and opinions
    • Interviews of well-known people
    • Reviews of products, movies, and performances

  • How does a magazine differ from a journal?

    A print magazine's design is colorful and appealing:

    • Interesting layouts with graphical elements
    • Advertisements
    • Photos, charts and other illustrations
    • Short paragraphs with headings
    • Sidebars

  • How does a magazine's writing style differ from a journal's?

    A magazine is written to interest readers and keep them reading:

    • Does the article have a catchy title?
    • Is the topic of general interest?
    • Is the writing style informal?
    • Are sources usually attributed within the text (i.e., no bibliography)?

  • How do I recognize a magazine in a database?

    Look for tip-off words in the title like:

    • Magazine
    • Digest
    • Illustrated
    • Popular
    • Weekly
    • Names of popular interests or hobbies (e.g., sports, games, science)
    • Target audience (e.g., consumer, teens, New York )

  • What database clues tell me it's a magazine?

    • Are color illustrations noted, even if they're not included?
    • Can I see a pdf of the print layout?

  • What if I'm still not sure it's a magazine?

    Search the publication's name. Does Google's search snippet include the word magazine?

  • How else can I determine if my source is a magazine?

    Go to the periodical's website:

    • Are the Web graphics and content typical of a magazine?
    • If there's a print version, does it look like a magazine?
    • Does the publisher call it a magazine (see "About" and "Press Information")?
    • Is there a cover price so that single issues can be sold?
    • Does an annual subscription cost under $100?

    What instructions are given to prospective writers?

    • Are authors told to write for a general audience?
    • Are manuscripts approved by editors (not peer reviewers)?

  • What if there's conflicting evidence?

    Weigh the information, and then use your judgment.

    For example, The Economist calls itself a newspaper. However, most evidence points to a magazine:

    • Colorful layout and graphics
    • Weekly publication
    • Articles summarize the news, rather than report daily events

  • Does this article have the information I need?

    Test for relevance before you take notes:

    • Preview the subject terms (Click on related terms to find other sources.)
    • Read the abstract
    • Skim the article's headings and sidebars

    Always check: Does this add something new to my research?

  • How do I evaluate an article's currency?

    Check the date of publication.

    Tip: The most recent article isn't necessarily better or more correct. However, by noticing dates and sources, you can track a controversy across a period of time and/or from various perspectives.

  • How do I evaluate a contributor's authority?

    A contributor's expertise and credentials should relate to your subject. A credible author may:

    • Write about this topic regularly
    • Have first-hand knowledge of a person
    • Have seen or participated in an event
    • Have a degree in this field
    • Do research on this topic
    • Work in a related field

  • How do I evaluate an article's credibility?

    Fact-check: Verify the accuracy of the evidence.

    • Click on hyperlinks to read additional information.
    • Are the author's sources relevant and the quotes accurate?
    • Is data "cherry picked" or are statistics from other sources presented truthfully?

    Corroborate: Compare information from different media (e.g., journals, reports, newspapers, blogs) to gather diverse viewpoints.

  • How do I evaluate the author's argument?

    Logic: Evaluate the strength of the argument.

    • Does the evidence support the writer's claims?
    • Do the author's conclusions follow logically from the analysis?

    What is the author's rhetorical purpose (e.g., persuade, inform, describe)?

    • Does the author's word choice and language expose this goal?
    • Is more than one viewpoint fully represented and fairly considered?

    How does this source fit?

    • Does this add a different point of view?
    • Does this make sense, given what I already know?

  • How do I cite a magazine article?

    Gather elements for your citation from the database record or print magazine.

    • Title
    • Author
    • Pages
    • Magazine name
    • Publication month, day and year