Analyzing Periodicals for Bias

Is there such a thing as unbiased writing?

What methods can you use to investigate authors, periodicals or publishers?

Journalists are asked to answer these questions when writing an article:
Who? What? Where? When? Why? So What? We can ask the same questions about the magazines, newspaper and journals that they publish in.


  • edits the periodical?
  • contributes articles?
  • are the subjects of their articles?

What is the…

  • political,
  • cultural,
  • academic,
  • generational perspective?


  • is the periodical published?
  • What area does it cover?


  • was the periodical founded?
  • How often is it published?


  • Do they have a mission statement on the masthead or web-site?
  • Can you find anything written about the periodical or its editor on the web or in other periodicals?

So What?

  • Would you need to find an opposing viewpoint to balance an article found in this periodical?
  • What other periodical would have the opposing viewpoint?
  • Can you use a reference or circulating book to find a wider range of opinion represented?
  • Are these books also pushing an agenda?

Places to find information on a periodical:

  • Corporate website (Google it, or find the website in the paper copy).
  • Database website (put periodical title in our catalog search box and follow the hyperlink to the periodical in a database)
  • Paper copy of periodical in the table of contents page or masthead.
  • Investigate the author in a database like ProQuest or Academic Research Premier as “person” (as opposed to “title” or “author” in the drop down box).
  • Investigate the author or the editor on the Web through Google, Google Scholar, or Wikipedia to get a quick idea of their standing in the community.
  • Investigate the author or the editor in an encyclopedia of their discipline in the library’s Reference section or in online Reference books.

(Based on a guide by Lisa Polfer)