Different Types of Publications
Below are some general guidelines to help you differentiate between different types of publications. These are not hard and fast rules since some publications contain multiple types of articles. Check out this website for more help with evaluating individual articles: https://lib.colostate.edu/howto/evalclues.html.
Peer-Review / Refereed / Scholarly / Academic
What are "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed" articles?
Peer-reviewed, refereed, scholarly, and academic are all terms that describe journal articles (and sometimes books!) that have been reviewed and edited by experts in the discipline.*
- Journal articles written by experts, faculty, or scholars on the topic
- The information has been evaluated by editors or other experts
- Articles most always contain a bibliography documenting sources
*"Scholarly" and "Academic" sometimes apply to articles that are not peer-reviewed. Critically evaluate all your sources.
Is this journal Scholarly/Peer Reviewed?
If you want to check to see if the journal is scholarly or peer-reviewed, search the journal title in Ulrich's Periodicals Directory.
Question: Is Ecology a scholarly/peer reviewed journal?
Look it up in Ulrich's and this is what you find...
Answer: Yes, Ecology is a refereed journal.
The CRAAP Test
Use the CRAAP test to help you evaluate your information whether it is a book, article, website, etc.
Currency - How current or up-to-date is the information?
Relevance - Is the information relevant to you and what you need to know?
Authority - Who wrote it? How well does the author know the topic?
Accuracy - How accurate is the information?
Purpose - Why was the information written/published?
This test does not give you the answer to whether information is reliable or not - it helps guide you to make your own decision.
**Think critically about the information you are reading/watching to determine if it is appropriate for your needs.**
Use the tabs above to help you determine if a source provides good information... or not.
How current or up to date is the information?
- What type of infomation do you need? Are you looking for historical, or current information?
- Does this type of inforamtion change quickly such as with the sciences?
- When was it published? Have there been updates/edits?
- Articles and books will have a publication date with them.
- Some websites will have a date (usually at the bottom of the page) saying when the website was made and/or last updated. Sometimes the date will be listed in an "about" section. Many websites will not have a date associate with them.
- How current is the acutal information?
- Is it recently published but uses old or out of date information?
- If sources are mentioned, look at their currency.
- If there are links, do they work? Are they up to date?
A note on websites:
Currency can be hard to determine for websites. If there is not a date made or date updated, evaluate the information itself. Compare the information with information you find from a known current source. Sometimes the syle of the site can help. Does it look out of date?
Is the information relevant to you and what you need to know?
- Is the information about your specific topic or interest?
- Not only is it generally on your topic, but does it cover your specific interests?
- Does it provide answers to your question(s)?
- Is it at the approprite level? Is it too technical or too simplified?
- Can you understand the language and writing? (Is it too technical?)
- Will your audience (if it is being used for a paper/presentation) understand the language and writing?
- Are you learning from it / is it providing you with new information? Or is it too simplified?
- If it is for an assignment, does it meet the requirements?
Who wrote it? How well does the author know the topic?
- Is the author an expert in the subject?
- Often the authors current position (a university professor? a journalist?) and where they obtained their knowledge is listed somehwere with the information.
- What is the authors background?
- Similar to figuring out if the author is an expert. Look for their education or experience information.
- Does the author seem to be expressing his/her opinions or bias?
- Who is the publisher?
- Is it published by an academic journal? A non-specific website? The authors own blog?...
**Can you trust that the information the author is giving you is accurate and reliable? Does he or she know what they are talking about?**
How accurate is the information?
- Are there sources? If yes, do the sources seem reliable?
- Is there a bibliography?
- Are the sources current?
- Are the sources academic? Are they from news sources? Websites?
- Does it make sense?
- Does the writing make sense?
- Are there grammar/spelling errors?
- Was the information reviewed by others?
- Is it an outlier?
- How does the information compare to other sources of information?
- Does it seem to be factual, or more oppininate or biased?
- If it is talking about research, how was the research done? Would it reproducable?
Why was the information written/published?
- Is the author trying to inform or educate? To sell or persuade? To entertain?
- Be careful! Sometimes something meant to sell can be disguised as educational.
- Is it overly opinionate, biased or prejudiced?
- Are politics, religion, or ideologies playing a role in the information?
- Are alternative points of view presented in a non judgmental way? Are they omited all together?
- Are facts or points left out?
- Is the writing emotional or factual?
Determining purpose can be difficult. Remember, anyone can put anything online and many things are biased.
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