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Law Enforcement

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



Criminal Justice Ethics

Law and Order


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

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.

Is It Fake News?

Evaluating Sources Using the CRAAP Test

Criteria Questions to Ask
  • Does your topic require current information?  If so, when was the source written and published?
  • Has the information been revised or updated recently?
  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?  Is the level too elementary or advanced for your needs?
  • Who is the author (person, company, or organization) and what are the author's credentials and affiliations?
  • If a website, does the URL provide insight?  examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Can the information be verified through another source?
  • Has the information been reviewed?  Is there a bibliography?
  • What is the reason for the source's existence?  To inform, teach, sell, entertain, or persuade?
  • Who is the intended audience? 
  • Does the point of view appear objective or biased?


Adapted from Evaluating Information - Applying the CRAAP Test from the Meriam Library at California State University, Chico

Evaluating Websites

Using the CRAAP test, let's examine the following websites to determine their credibility for use as sources.

Police Stressline

National Institutes of Health

Gun Violence Information

Some Essential Elements of a Book

Front matter includes elements like the title page and copyright page. The copyright page for The Future of Policing is pictured here. It contains information like year of publication, copyright information, and publisher.


The Table of Contents lists broadly what you can expect to find in the book. This includes chapters and, often, subheadings. 

References can be included either at the end of a book section, or at the end of the book. In the case of The Future of Policing, you can find references following each section. These are valuable in not only do they provide information on where the author got his or her information, but they provide additional avenues of information for you as a researcher, as well.


A book's index is an alphabetical listing of subjects, including page numbers where you can find those subjects mentioned. It appears at the end of the book and can be a valuable resource for quickly determining where you can find information on your research topic.

Some Essential Elements of a Journal Article

The abstract is a brief summary of the article and is a valuable tool for helping to quickly understand what the article is about.

The first page of this article, from March 2017 Justice Quarterly, also includes information on the article's authors, their qualifications, and contact information.

References are included at the end of each article.These are valuable in not only do they provide information on where the author got his or her information, but they provide additional avenues of information for you as a researcher, as well.