Forest and Rangeland Stewardship (FRS)

Evaluating Sources

Only you can decide whether an information source is appropriate to use for a particular purpose.  However, there are a number of factors you can consider when assessing an information source.  One way to remember them is called the CRAAP test.

Does your source pass the CRAAP test?

  • Currency
  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Accuracy
  • Purpose

See this handout from the Meriam Library at California State University Chico, or view the video from Western Libraries for more information.

Video by Western Libraries. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Types of Periodicals

Scholarly, Popular, or Trade

Periodical publications (such as magazines, journals, or newspapers) can be grouped into categories based on their overall characteristics. 

Understanding the differences and similarities between three main categories of publications - scholarly, popular, and trade - can be beneficial when deciding which information sources to use.

What is peer review?

Peer review is a process by which an article is evaluated before it is published.  View this video from North Carolina State University Libraries to gain a better understanding of peer review and its importance to academic research.

Video by NCSU Libraries. CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US

Is this journal peer reviewed?

Professors may ask students to use peer-reviewed information sources in assignments.  To determine whether a journal uses the peer-review process, look it up in the Ulrichsweb database.

  • Enter the journal title in the search box
  • Select the journal from the results list by clicking on it
  • If the journal is listed as "refereed", it uses the peer review process

The screenshot below shows how this is displayed in Ulrichsweb. (The orange arrow was added for emphasis and will not appear in the database.)

Screenshot of a chart with the word "refereed" on the left and the word "yes" on the right.

NOTE:  The peer review process may not apply to every article that is published in a journal.  Editorials or opinion pieces generally do not undergo peer review, even if they are published in a journal that uses the process to evaluate research articles.

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