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ACA 115: Success & Study Skills: Evaluating Sources

Suggested library and web resources, organized by sugject, for students taking ACA 115.

What is a scholarly source?

What is a scholarly source?

What is a scholarly source?

Scholarly sources are written by experts in a particular field or area of study (discipline). These sources are used by others in the same discipline to stay informed and up to date on the most recent research, research findings, and news in that discipline. You might also hear scholarly sources referred to as peer-reviewed or refereed.

What does peer reviewed mean?

Peer reviewed sources are scholarly scources that have gone through a rigorous review process by a review board of colleagues in the author's discipline. This review board evaluates the source submitted for publication to determine its value as a contribution to the body of research in that discipline. The submission may be accepted, returned for revisions, or even rejected by the review board.

Why use scholarly sources?

Using scholarly sources is an expected part of your academic course work because these sources are credible and authoritative; they are written by academically recognized experts. These types of sources will help you produce quality papers and presentations.

You are now a part of the scholarly community and need to join the scholarly conversation. Here is how it works and why these sources are important:

Building Blocks

Scholarship builds on previous ideas and discoveries. For example, medical care improves due to research. That research is published and/or presented. Other researchers consult this scholarship and produce their own research to be published and/or presented, etc.

Creating Pathways to Discovery

Researchers credit ideas and discoveries through citations and references in their papers/presentations. You, as a student researcher, also need to credit the ideas and discoveries of the researchers referenced in your own papers/presentations.

Creation of New Knowledge

Students write papers/present and cite previous research in their own work. They become the next generation of researchers and part of the scholary conversation.

How can I tell if a source is scholarly?

Scholarly sources have particular characteristics as follows:

  • Articles are written by a scholar or expert in the field.
  • Scholarly journal articles and books generally have sources cited in footnotes and a bibliography.
  • The main purpose of a scholarly journal is to report on original research or experimentation in order to make such information available to the rest of the scholarly world.
  • The language used in scholarly sources is typically the language used in the discipline covered.
  • Scholarly sources generally assume some prior knowledge of the topic being discussed.
  • Many scholarly journals are published by a professional organization of the discipline.
  • Many scholarly journals are "peer reviewed" or "refereed". The author of an article must submit the article for review by a panel of experts in the field to be accepted for publication.

*The information found above was originally published in Hope International University Darling Library's libguide on Evaluating Sources, and is used with permission. 

The CRAAP Method

The CRAAP Method (aka CRAAP Test*) is a method used to evaluate information for appropriate academic quality. Apply the following criteria to your information to see if it should be used.

Currency = timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Do you require current information or will older sources work?
  • Are the links functional and up to date? (Applies to Internet websites.)

Relevance = the importance of the information

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Does the information meet the stated requirements of your assignment?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information presented at an appropriate level (too simple, too technical, just right)?

Authority = credibility of the source of the information

  • Who is the author?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Can you find information about the author from reference sources or the Internet?
  • Is the author cited in other books or articles?
  • Who is the publisher?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the source (i.e. .gov, .edu., .org, .com, .net)? (Applies to Internet websites.)

Accuracy = reliability or truthfulness of the content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is it supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been peer reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify it in another source?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or typographical errors?
  • Is it clear who is responsible for the content and accuracy of the web page? (Applies to Internet websites.)

Purpose = reason the information exists

  • Do the authors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective or impartial?
  • Is there obvious bias or prejudice? (e.g. political, ideological, religious, cultural, or personal bias)
  • Does the author omit important facts or data that might disprove the claim?
  • Is there advertising on the web page? If so, is it clearly separate from the informational content?  (Applies to Internet websites.)

*The CRAAP Test created by the librarians at California State University, Chico

Evaluating Sources : Print Materials

Need help?  Contact the VGCC Library.