Skip to Main Content

BIOL 162: Introduction to Mechanisms of Multicellular Life: Analyzing Resources

Understanding & Choosing Appropriate Sources

Interrogating Your Sources: 


 Who is the author?

 How is the author qualified?

 Is the author an expert?

 What is the author's bias? (Remember that a bias may not be directly stated -- but there is almost always some bias!))

Be wary if you cannot determine an author or group responsible for the content you are reading.


 What is the source? Is it a research report? An entertainment piece? An opinion essay? 

 What does this tell you about the source's audience, purpose, and potential bias(es) or shortcoming(s)? 


 Is the source recent (or, if digital, regularly updated)?  When was it published? 

 Is there any information which seems out-of-date? 


 Who hosts the site? OR Who publishes this resource?

 Does the host/publisher have bias?  (Remember that a bias may not be directly stated.)

 What is the domain extension?

The publisher and/or domain can help you determine how reputable a website is. For example, .gov is the domain for United States government sites and .edu is for US Educational institutuions. Note that not all .com sites are unreliable and not all .org sites are reputable -- .org simply means that the website is for a non-profit group. 


 What is the purpose and audience of the source?

 What is the benefit, and/or who benefits, if this source reaches and/or successfully convinces readers? 



 By what means was this source created? 

 Does the resource provide its sources?

 Does it refer/link you to other credible sources?

 Can you determine whether the information came from, and whether the original source/info is represented accurately?

Be wary of any source which does not reference sources, especially when it contains information that clearly or at least likely originated somewhere else. First, failing to cite sources is unethical, and reflects poorly on the author(s)! Second, without knowing the original source, you can't adequately evaluate the weaknesses and/or biases of the information, or know if it is even being represented faithfully in the "secondary" source. 

Cheating with ChatGPT

Wall Street Journal. (2022, December 2021).  Cheating with ChatGPT: Can OpenAI’s chatbot pass AP Lit?  [Video].  YouTube.

Scopus: CiteScore and Cited By Metrics

Scopus can help you analyze a journal article by providing features such as CiteScore metrics and the number of times an article has been cited.

CiteScore measures the citation impact of sources, such as journals.  It does this by counting the citations received in 2017-2020 to articles, reviews, conference papers, book chapters and data papers published in 2017-2020, and divides this by the number of publications published in 2017-2020.

screenshot of the Scopus CiteScore feature

Cited by tells you how many times a source has been cited by other researchers.

screenshot of Scopus cited by number results

Usage Count - the number of times an article has been accessed to the point of obtaining full text from the publisher's website or the article citation has been saved to a citation management tool (i.e., RefWorks)

Journal and Article Metrics

There are several measures available to analyze journals and articles. 

Journal Level:

  • Impact Factor: The Impact Factor is a measure of scientific influence of scholarly journals. It is produced by a publisher called Thomson Reuters
  • CiteScore: Provides Cite Factor that indicates how widely read the articles in a specific journal are
  • Scimago Journal Rating (SJR): weighted citations ranking

Article Level: 

  • Number of citations in Scopus
  • Field weighted impact factor
  • Benchmark
  • PlumX Metrics: usage, captures, mentions, social media attention