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PSYC 110: Exploring Psychological Science: Evaluating Sources

Guide for Stevenson's Exploring Psychological Science

Scholarly Articles

Also called: Scholarly Journals, Academic Journals, Peer-Reviewed

Use the following criteria to determine whether an article is scholarly.

Audience Scholars, researchers, professors, students.
Author Professionals, experts in the field. Credentials are listed in the article.
Content Original research.
Length Usually lengthy, often 20-40 pages long.
Citations Many detailed citations.
Refereed Yes; Articles go through a peer-review process where they are critiqued by other experts in the field before they are published.

Popular Articles

Also called: Newspapers, Magazines, Trade Magazines

Use the following criteria to determine whether an article is popular.

Audience General readers.
Author Varies, but typically journalists, staff writers, 'guest' experts. May not be signed.
Content Non-technical, entertainment, news. May report on original research (such as breaking medical research)
Length Usually short, 1-5 pages.
Citations No, incomplete, or very few citations.
Refereed No

CRAAP

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
         examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government),
                             .org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content, and

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?