All of your information sources -- books, articles, and websites -- must to be evaluated for quality. The tools listed below can help.
Websites need careful evaluation. Apply the "CRAAP" test to the information you find.
Currency – How up-to-date is the information? Is the date appropriate for your topic?
Relevance – Is the information directly about your topic? Is it too simple? Too complex? What audience is this written for?
Authority – Who is the author? What are his/her credentials? Why should you believe the author?
Accuracy – Where does the information come from? Are there references or a bibliography? Is the information consistent with unrelated sources? Does the appearance seem professional?
Purpose – Why was this information published? What audience is this written for? Is there a commercial or persuasive purpose?
What is the difference between an article in a Scholarly Journal and a Popular Magazine?
|Content||Original research and inquiry||General interest stories and opinion pieces; may discuss research studies, but do not contain original research|
|Purpose||Share research to expand knowledge base in a discipline||Share news, general information, and entertainment; for profit|
|Audience||Professors, researchers, professionals, experts, students||General public|
|Author||Experts in the field. Name, credentials, and affiliations are provided.||Journalist or professional writer, who are not experts or specialists in a field. Sometimes no author name or credentials are given.|
|Article Structure||Includes clearly labeled parts such as abstract (article summary), and references (bibliography, works cited). May also include and introduction, background, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion, notes, appendices and more.||Structure varies. May have titled subsections, but they will rarely be the same labels as a scholarly work. Do not have abstracts or reference lists.|
|Language||Scholarly or technical language; may require prior knowledge of field, issues, and jargon||Easily understood language; does not require special knowledge|
|Peer review||Usually. Articles are verified by experts in the field; emphasize accuracy, trustworthiness, and validity.||No|
|Citations||Yes. Other sources will be cited in text and will have full citations/references in footnotes or reference/works cited list at the end of the paper.||Rarely. Sources will often be referred to, but rarely have full citations. No reference/works cited list.|
|Appearance||Serious and simple; often black and white||Glossy, colorful; attractive images and design; full page ads|
|Images||Sometimes. May contain charts, diagrams, and tables; photography is rare outside of specific disciplines.||Yes. Heavily illustrated with many photos|
|Advertisements||Rarely. If so, they are small, discreet, and subject related||Yes. Profit-based publication; a significant portion is allocated to ads|
|Length||Longer. Length is variable, but usually between 10-30 pages||Shorter. A couple hundred words to a few pages|
Information in this table was created in conjunction with viewing the University of Victoria's Research Tips Central pages.