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Chemistry and Biochemistry

A research guide for students in the fields of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Using the CARS Checklist to Evaluate Science Articles

Examine the following criteria to evaluate a scientific article:   Cause & Effect, Author, Research, and Soundness of Data (CARS)

Cause & Effect

  • Is causation versus correlation distinguished?
  • Is there a control group?
  • Are all possible factors controlled for in the experiment?
  • Do the results and conclusions stick to the findings?

Author

  • Who is the author?
  • Who published the work?  Is it a peer-reviewed source?
  • Is there a funding or institutional affiliation?  Could this lead to bias?  Are they "selling" you something?
  • Is the article objective or does it reflect the opinions/preconceptions of the researcher or reporter?

Research

  • How recent is the research?  Do more recent studies contradict these results?
  • Are key references or sources cited that are within 5 years of publication date?
  • Does it follow the conventions of a specific style (APA or CSA)?
  • Does it cover all sides of the topic?

Soundness of Data

  • How was the data gathered?
  • Are all data equally useful?
  • How big should the sample size be?  Is it representative?
  • Was instrument(s) used reliable (consistently measures) and valid (measures what you want)?
  • Are limitations discussed?

 

Peer Review Process