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FYS: Faith, Doubt and Reason (Hege): Evaluating Sources

Scholarly vs Popular

How to Tell if a Source is Scholarly/Academic

Finding Scholarly/Academic Articles

To locate scholarly/academic articles, your best bet is to look in one of our databases or use WorldCat Discovery and limit your search to articles. You will likely find that there are LOTS of popular sources in with the academic ones, even within our databases. Use the Peer-Review Limiter to your advantage. This option is normally located in the left column; you can see screenshots of this option from WorldCat Discovery (left) and our EBSCO databases (right).

Peer review limiter in WorldCat Discovery searchPeer review limiter in EBSCO

This will limit your search to publications that are most scholarly/academic. It does not necessarily filter to include publications that go through a strict peer-review process. It also does not apply the filter at the article level; occasionally it will allows articles that are not scholarly/academic to come through (for example, an editorial opinion piece can be published in a scholarly journal but the article itself is not scholarly). 

If you have questions about whether or not a source is scholary/academic, ask your professor or a librarian!

Parts of a Scholarly Article

The CRAAP Test

The CRAAP Test

Currency, Relevancy, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose

Practice your CRAP Skills!

Use the C.R.A.A.P Test to determine the quality of the information you are using.  The test can be applied to all types of information:  journal & magazine articles; books & book chapters, websites, blogs, reports, etc.

CRAAP Test Worksheet

Man carrying a sign that says "Judgement Day May 21, 2011"

When was the information published or posted?

Do you need historical or current information?

Has this information been revised or changed since it was first released?


BOTTOM LINE: Does this offer appropriately current or historical information?

Image: Bummer by Nick Harris1Used under CC BY-ND

Woman reading a book, looking confusedDoes the information help you accomplish the purpose of your work/paper? Does this easily relate to your topic?

Does this source meet all your information needs or assignment requirements?

Is this source at an appropriate level for your intended audience?

Have you looked at a variety of sources? Why is this source better than others?


BOTTOM LINE: Is this a source that adds value to your work? Why is it worth including?

Image: Confused by CollegeDegrees360Used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Man standing with several cameras hanging around his neck. Cannot see man's face.

Who is the author?  Who is the publisher?

  • What expertise do they have with this subject?
  • What is their educational background?
  • Where are they from? Where are they living now?
  • What political party do they belong to?
  • What organizations or causes do they support?
  • Are there any other biases you can ascertain?

BOTTOM LINE: Can you trust this author and publisher to know what they're talking about?

Image: [Man with Cameras] by i k o. Used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Is this information correct? Reliable?

Are sources listed? Cited within the text?

Dart board with several darts in the bulleye

  • Are these sources scholarly/academic?
  • When were these sources published?
  • Do these sources come from trustworthy authors/publishers?

If the source conducted its own original research:

  • What methods were used to collect the data/information?
  • What was the sample size or population?
  • Are there any weaknesses in the way that they gather or analyzed their data?
  • Do you feel that they provided adequate support for their conclusions?

BOTTOM LINE: Can you trust that this information is true?

Image: Darts by Richard_of_EnglandUsed under CC BY 2.0

World War Two poster that says "Millions of troops are on the move; is your trip necessary?"What is the purpose of this information source?

  • To entertain? Inform? Educate? Pursuade? Sell? 
  • Are advertisements included? Photographs?

Is the information fact, opinion, or propoganda?

Do the authors/publishers make their intentions clear?

Is there bias - political, cultural, religious, ideological, personal, etc?


BOTTOM LINE: Is this source objective and impartial, or is it influenced by bias or hidden agendas?

Image: "Is your trip necessary?" by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious.Used under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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