|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.
You can use the "CRAAP" test to help you evaluate the information sources you find.
Currency – How up-to-date is the information?
Relevance – Is the information directly about your topic? Is it too simple? Too complex?
Authority – Who is the author? What are his/her credentials? Where was the information published?
Accuracy – Where does the information come from? Is it consistent with unrelated sources?
Purpose – Why was this information published
When you find a book in the catalog or on the shelf, how do you decide if it is a good source for your research? Books generally undergo more evaluation before publishing than some websites, and, if a library owns a book, that means more evaluation has taken place (for purchase and inclusion). However, you still need to check for quality and relevance. Here is a link to some questions you should ask:
|When looking at a specific Wikipedia article, consider the following:||