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Writing Tutors: Library Resources

Scholarly vs. Popular Articles

How can you tell the difference between a scholarly and popular article?
 

scholarly journalsScholarly or Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • These are written by and for faculty, researchers, or scholars.
  • They use scholarly or technical language and tend to be longer and include full citations for sources.
  • They are peer-reviewed or refereed, which means articles are reviewed by other scholars before being published.

 

popular magazinesPopular Magazines and Newspapers Articles

  • These are usually written by journalists or professional writers for a general audience and are shorter, with a broader overview.
  • They are not evaluated by experts but by the magazine editors or staff.
  • They usually lack citations for sources used.


For even more detailed help see our
Distinguish between Scholarly and Popular Journals guide.

CRAAP Test: Tips on Evaluating Sources

Some things to consider in evaluating the quality of research sources:

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • How recent is the information?
  • Can you locate a date when the page(s) were written/created/updated?
  • Based on your topic, is the information current enough?

Reliability: importance of the information

  • What kind of information is included in the Web site?
  • Is the content primarily fact, or opinion? Is the information balanced, or biased?
  • Does the author provide references for quotations and data?
  • If there are links, do they work?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Can you determine who the author/creator is? is there a way to contact them?
  • What are their credentials (education, affiliation, experience, etc.)?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor of the site? Are they reputable?

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information

  • Is it accurate? Is it supported by evidence?
  • Is the information balanced or biased?
  • Was it peer-reviewed?
  • Can you verify the information from another reliable source?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or typographical errors?
  • Can you determine who the author/creator is? is there a way to contact them?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What's the intent of the Web site (to persuade, to sell you something, etc.)?
  • What is the domain (.edu, .org, .com, etc.)? 
  • Are there ads on the Web site?
  • How do they relate to the topic being covered (e.g., an ad for ammunition next to an article about firearms legislation)?
  • Is the author presenting fact, or opinion? Who might benefit from a reader believing this Web site?
  • Based on the writing style, who is the intended audience?


The CRAAP Test was developed by librarians at California State University, Chico.