Skip to Main Content

Research Guides

Vandal Athletics Library Guide: Evaluation

Developed for Vandal Athletics' Life Skills Class

Source Evaluation

All of your information sources -- books, articles, and websites -- must to be evaluated for quality. The tools listed below can help.

Evaluating Websites

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?

The CRAAP Test

Evaluating Articles

What is the difference between an article in a Scholarly Journal and a Popular Magazine?

  Scholarly Popular
Format Journals Magazines, newspapers
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.