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ENGLISH 105-6: Literatures of Addiction (Carmichael): Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Articles

Magazines, journals, scholarly, popular, peer-reviewed...??  If you've ever run across any or a combination of these terms and needed clarification on their distinct meanings, this page aims to provide it.


Scholarly Journals

Trade Journals

Popular Magazines



Social Psychology Quarterly

Advertising Age


New York Times


Primary account of original research; In-depth analyses of issues in the field; Articles often include abstract, method, discussion, tables, conclusion, and references

Current news, trends, or products in an industry or professional organization; Statistics, forecasts, employment and career information

Current events and news; General information with purpose to entertain or inform; Analyses of popular culture; Secondary account of someone else's research that may include opinion

Current events and news that may be local, regional, national or international; Ads, editorials, speeches; Primary source for information on events


Academic, technical jargon that uses the language of the discipline; Requires some relevant expertise

Specialized jargon or terminology of the field; Written for practitioners/professionals

Easily understandable, non-technical language; Written for the layperson

Written for a general audience; Understandable language


Researchers, scholars, professors, etc.

Practitioners in the field, industry professionals, or journalists with subject expertise

Journalists or staff writers

Journalists or staff writers


References, footnotes or bibliographies are always included

References in text or short bibliographies are occasionally included

References are rarely included

Rarely cite sources in full


Journal's editorial board, or if peer-reviewed, external scholars in the same field

Work for the publisher

Work for the publisher

Work for the publisher


Universities, scholarly presses, or academic organizations

Commercial publishers or trade and professional organizations

Commercial publishers

Commercial publishers

Example Databases

Academic Search Premier, JSTOR, Sociological Abstracts, Historical Abstracts

ABI Inform, Business Source Premier, ERIC, SPORTDiscus

Readers Guide Abstracts, Academic OneFile, Academic Search Premier

LexisNexis Academic, Access World News, Library Press Display


Peer-reviewed journal articles vs. scholarly journal articles
Not all scholarly journal articles are peer-reviewed. However, all peer-reviewed articles (aka refereed articles) are scholarly.

What is peer-review?
Peer-review refers to the rigorous process that articles undergo before they may be published.  Other scholars in the author's field or discipline review and evaluate the article for quality and validity.  If lacking, the article may be rejected, but otherwise, the article is accepted, often with suggestions for revision.

Evaluating Websites

Let's examine websites with the CRAAP criteria

Can you tell when the site or page was created and when it was last updated?  Are there dead links on the site?
How important is it that you have the most up to date information for your research topic?

Is the information relevant to your topic?  If relevant, does the site or page answer all or just some of your questions?  Are there gaps to fill?
Is the scope of the site too broad or too narrow?

Who is the author or creator of the site and are their credentials listed?  If not, can you find their credentials elsewhere?
Are there advertisements on the site and if so, for what?
Who is the publisher or sponsor of the site and are they an authority on the topic or issue?
Is the site a .com, .gov, .org, etc?  What kind of domain is found in the URL?
.com: used for commercial sites; purpose is to sell something.
.net: can be used by anyone or any entity; often used by businesses.
.edu: used by universities and other educational organizations.
.org: typically used by non-profit entities that are not educational or commercial entities.
.gov: used by departments, agencies or offices of the U.S. federal government.
Country codes: used as abbreviations for countries, such as .de for Germany or .us for United States.

Are you able to find other sources of information that provide similar information or make similar claims?
Does any of the information strike you as very different from what you already know about the topic?
Does the web page or site offer citations or refer to other sources of information, and do those sources pass the CRAAP test too?
Are there spelling or typographical errors?

Is the web site or page trying to sell or persuade?  Does it appear to be mostly made up of opinion, fact, or opinion based on fact?
Who is the intended audience of the website? Is the language basic or technical?
Does the site have an "about" section or introductory / background information that you can review to help determine a mission, point of view, or agenda?