Skip to Main Content

Introduction to Research: Evaluating Research

This guide is designed to help you get started with a research project.

Listen and Join, Read and Write

Used under a Creative Commons license from Cooperative Library Instruction Project.

What is a scholarly source?

What is a scholarly source?

Scholarly sources are written by experts in a particular field or area of study (discipline). These sources are used by others in the same discipline to stay informed and up to date on the most recent research, research findings, and news in that discipline. You might also hear scholarly sources referred to as peer-reviewed or refereed.

What does peer reviewed mean?

Peer reviewed sources are scholarly scources that have gone through a rigorous review process by a review board of colleagues in the author's discipline. This review board evaluates the source submitted for publication to determine its value as a contribution to the body of research in that discipline. The submission may be accepted, returned for revisions, or even rejected by the review board.

Why use scholarly sources?

Using scholarly sources is an expected part of your academic course work because these sources are credible and authoritative; they are written by academically recognized experts. These types of sources will help you produce quality papers and presentations.

You are now a part of the scholarly community and part of the scholarly conversation. Here is how it works and why these sources are important:

Building Blocks

  • Scholarship builds on previous ideas and discoveries. For example, medical care improves due to research. That research is published and/or presented. Other researchers consult this scholarship and produce their own research to be published and/or presented. Etc.

Creating Pathways to Discovery

  • Researchers credit ideas and discoveries through citations and references in their papers/presentations. You, as a student researcher, also need to credit the ideas and discoveries of the researchers referenced in your own papers/presentations.

Creation of New Knowledge

  • Students, writing papers and presenting, cite researchers in their own work and become the next generation of researchers!


How can I tell if a source is scholarly?

Scholarly sources have particular characteristics as follows:

  • Articles are written by a scholar or expert in the field.
  • Scholarly journal articles and books generally have sources cited in footnotes and a bibliography.
  • Scholarly journal articles usually have an abstract (summary) at the beginning of the article.
  • The main purpose of a scholarly journal is to report on original research or experimentation in order to make such information available to the rest of the scholarly world.
  • The language used in scholarly sources is typically the language used in the discipline covered.
  • Scholarly sources generally assume some prior knowledge of the topic being discussed.
  • Many scholarly journals are published by a professional organization of the discipline.
  • Many scholarly journals are "peer reviewed" or "refereed". The author of an article must submit the article for review by a panel of experts in the field to be accepted for publication.

You will learn more about this on the next page, Scholarly Characteristics  >>

Classifiying Scholarly items

Scholarly Journals

Popular Magazines
Appearance: Have a serious look with plain text, seldom glossy. Appearance: Attractive and eye-catching style.
Audience: Written FOR professors, students or researchers. Audience: General and casual readers.
Authors: Written BY experts, scholars, researchers who give their credentials and affiliations in the articles.

Authors: Written by reporters, freelance writers, or magazine staff often without credentials.

Review Process: Reviewed by experts or peer reviewed. Review Process: Reviewed by magazine editors.
Format: Articles are presented and follow a pattern with abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion, possibly footnotes, endnotes and/or bibliography. Format: Articles are presented to be eye-catching and sectioned for fast & easy reading.
Graphics: Usually have graphs, charts, tables and illustrations to support research. Graphics: Have glossy pictures, eye-catching graphics, cartoons & illustrations.
Sources: Sources are cited and articles include footnotes/endnotes/in-text citation and bibliographies (Bibliography/References/Works Cited). Sources: Rarely have bibliographies or cite their sources.
Advertising: Have no advertising or very little. Advertising: Have heavy advertising.
Publisher: Usually published by professional organizations, scholarly societies, or universities. Publisher: Published by general or commercial publishers or other media groups for profit.


Evaluating Information for Academic Quality

Now that you've found information, you will need to evaluate that information for academic quality and determine if it will address your research needs.

Video produced by the NYIT Library.

Watch this video:

The CRAAP Method

The CRAAP Method (aka CRAAP Test*) is a method used to evaluate information for appropriate academic quality. Apply the following criteria to your information to see if it should be used. Criteria in red apply to Internet websites.

Currency = timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Do you require current information or will older sources work?
  • Are the links functional and up to date?

Relevance = the importance of the information

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Does the information meet the stated requirements of your assignment?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information presented at an appropriate level (too simple, too technical, just right)?

Authority = credibility of the source of the information

  • Who is the author?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Can you find information about the author from reference sources or the Internet?
  • Is the author cited in other books or articles?
  • Who is the publisher?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the source? (i.e. .gov, .edu., .org, .com, .net)

Accuracy = reliability or truthfulness of the content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is it supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been peer reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify it in another source?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or typographical errors?

Purpose = reason the information exists

  • Do the authors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective or impartial?
  • Is there obvious bias or prejudice? (e.g. political, ideological, religious, cultural, or personal bias)
  • Does the author omit important facts or data that might disprove the claim?

*The CRAAP Test created by the librarians at California State University, Chico