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Evaluating Sources of Information

This guide helps students to, distinguish scholarly from non-scholarly sources of information, distinguish academic from non-academic journals,apply the CRAAP test in evaluating websites and other sources of information.



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One of the constants in requests for library literacy sessions is the need for students to evaluate sources of information.  Information is available at the fingertips, with just the touch of a screen, the slide on a pad, the click of a button or the movement of a mouse.  Ready content from generative AI tools have swung on to the information superhighway with other electronic sources of material. With information so readily accessible, how can students determine what may or may not be used for assignments and other projects and research?  How can they evaluate sources of information for use? 

Distinguishing academic from non-academic journals

Distinguishing Academic from non-academic journals

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 A useful library guide from Cornell University identifies four broad categories of journals: 

   1.  Scholarly:  written by scholars or professionals who are experts in their fields

   2.  Substantive News/General Interest: provides information of events and issues of public                  concern 

  3.   Popular: reflects the tastes of the public and are largely for entertainment

  4.  Sensational: written to arouse or incite curiosity and is not usually factual


Academic or Scholarly: Do they mean the same?

Academic or Scholarly?

While the terms "Academic" and "Scholarly" are often used interchangeably, EBSCO separates them as follows:

Academic Journals: “Journals that publish articles which carry footnotes and bibliographies, and whose intended audience is comprised of some kind of research community.  It is a broad classification that includes both "peer-reviewed" journals as well as journals that are not "peer-reviewed" but intended for an academic audience.”

Scholarly (Peer-reviewed) Journals: “Journals that are intended for an academic audience and are peer-reviewed.” 

See  Scholarly vs non scholarly sources 

Identifying Peer-reviewed material

How to tell if material is peer reviewed

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All peer-reviewed articles are scholarly articles, but not all scholarly articles are peer-reviewed. How can you tell if a journal or article is peer-reviewed?

This blog How Can I Tell if a Journal is Peer Reviewed? is a useful resource for identifying peer-reviewed material. 


Evaluating Websites

Evaluating Websites

If you find scholarly sources via a website that is not the homepage of an academic journal you may be directed to academic databases (to which your library may subscribe) or to google scholar. When this does not occur, you need to evaluate the sources to which you are directed. CRAAP is a useful acronym to use in evaluating websites and other online sources of information. 

CRAAP Checklist

The CRAAP Test

  • Currency (Last updated or revised/No dead links)
  • Relevant to your particular research
  • Authority (Author/Responsibility)
  • Accuracy (Bias/Coverage, Content/Style)
  • Purpose (Objective)

Here is a link to a video on the CRAAP Test as well as an evaluation checklist.

Your library subscribes to academic databases so you may not need to apply the CRAAP test if a search is done via the library’s databases. However, if you are asked for peer-reviewed material, you will to specify such in your search across the Library’s databases.

Additional Sources

Additional Sources of Information

This library guide provides additional guidelines for evaluating sources of information:  

How do I tell if this is a useful source? - Evaluating Sources - Library Guides at University of Washington Libraries (

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Petra Pierre-Robertson
Caribbean Educational Research Information Service (CERIS)
School of Education
The University of the West Indies
St. Augustine
18686622002 ext 83336