Skip to Main Content

Rural Sociology

Major Criteria for Evaluation of Science Authors

Created by C. Anelli 2011   – Fall 11

Major Criteria for Evaluation of Science Authors


Note:  These criteria are intended as a guide to screen out non-reliable claims from non-experts.  When experts are truly in conflict about data or an issue, your evaluation may come down to the opinions of sources (including people) that you trust the most. 



Remember to consider the academic field or issue in question when evaluating the scientist’s credibility/expertise.

Strength of Evidence

for Criterion

Criterion for scientist




Very Good


Formal education  (PhD, post-doc, visiting scientist, sabbatical, etc.)




Publications  (peer reviewed, number of, Impact Factor, citation

              record, review articles, books/book chapters, currency,

               reputation of collaborators)




Grants & funding sources (number, $, years funded, national vs in-house; U.S. science:  NSF, NIH, USDA= national level; whether

            source is potential conflict of interest)




Professional employment now/past  (college/university, state or

            federal agency; “think-tank,” politically active group)




Scientific awards & honors  (endowed/distinguished chairs, HHMI

           scientist, national/international recognition: Lasker, Nobel;

            National Academy of Sciences (NAS) membership, Fulbright)




Invited talks (for whom, what level (national, regional, etc.)),

           keynote address) e.g., Gordon Conference




Blue-ribbon panel, advisory board, etc. (national/international level)




Grant panel/study section (NIH, NSF, other high-level agencies)




Reviewer for journals (high impact factor), academic press books




Editorship, Editorial Board member




Scientific society elected leadership service




University/college committees




Mass media  (interviews w/ major news agencies, documentaries,

            TV show, etc., nationally/internationally; featured in top

            science journals—on cover or special report)




Courses taught/students trained  (UG/graduate/postdoc etc.)




Consultancy  (consider reputation/potential bias of group/person)




Webpage  (bias or agenda, political/religious leaning)








Criterion for issue




Scientific consensus  (also consider source for this info)




Researcher(s)’ reputation in the field





WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us