Before you incorporate research material into your assignment, it’s important to think critically about each source. Whether it’s a scholarly article, tweet, or story from a magazine, you should determine if that source is true and useful for your research. Even if the article is trustworthy and verifiable, that doesn’t mean it’s a good source for your specific needs.
This guide will show you how to successfully evaluate your sources before you use them in your assignments.
Why does it matter if you evaluate a source?
First, it’s important to show that you thought critically about the material you found. Second, it shows that you read the research and are not just padding your paper with quotes you haven’t reviewed.
Scholarly writing builds off of existing academic work. When you evaluate your sources and incorporate them into your assignments, you’re adding your voice to a conversation. Evaluating sources shows that you have original thoughts and ideas that contribute to existing scholarship.
There are numerous ways to evaluate sources, but one of our favorites is asking if the information is CRAAP. If the source passes the CRAAP test, it’s a good thing.
CRAAP is a checklist of questions you can use to review the information and author of a resource. CRAAP stands for:
While it's useful to think generally on these different aspects of a source, you can also use this CRAAP Test Rubric for more specific guidance in evaluating a source's merits.
Use these questions to help you evaluate resources.
Current: The timeliness of the information.
Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
Authority: The source of the information.
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content.
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
Download a printable copy of the CRAAP Test below.
When you’re evaluating sources, where do you find the information you need to determine if the resource is reliable or not?
First, you can ask the following questions:
If you’re evaluating an article:
If you’re evaluating a book:
If you’re evaluating a website:
What are scholarly (peer reviewed) journal articles ?
Scholarly articles are written by recognized experts in their field. The articles are then reviewed by peers who determine if the information in the article is true, verifiable, and, in the case of science, repeatable. These articles share information based on original research and experimentation. They usually focus on one specific academic subject.
What does my professor mean when they say use “scholarly sources”?
This often means scholarly peer reviewed journal articles, but scholarly sources are not limited to articles. Books can also be considered scholarly sources if the information has been verified and reviewed by academic editors. Always check what kind of sources your professor wants you to use. Some require peer reviewed others do not.
What is peer review?
This is a process that articles go through before they are published in academic journals. When an article is submitted to a journal, the editor sends that article out to other academics and experts in that field. They read the item to evaluate the information and research. If the peers approve, the article may be published. Reviewers can also ask for any issues with the research or article to be addressed before it is published
Are all journal articles peer-reviewed?
No. While most academic journals require peer review, not every journal does. That is why you’ll see the “peer review” or “scholarly” filter in our databases. When you check that box, it removes articles from journals that do not use peer review.
Is everything in a scholarly journal a peer-reviewed article?
No. Many journals also include book reviews. These will usually begin with the citation information and price for the book they are reviewing. Book reviews don’t go through peer review.
What are the signs an article (or book) is scholarly?
There are few ways you can tell if an article or book is scholarly. Here are some characteristics to look for:
Is a textbook a scholarly source?
Most textbooks are not considered to be scholarly sources. While textbooks do contain academic content, they are considered to be teaching resources.