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ENGL 201: Critical Reading: Evaluate Sources

This is a research guide to accompany ENGL 201.

Is my source a scholarly work?

Is your source a scholarly work? Scholarly works offer transparency, making it relatively easy for readers to scrutinize their work. For clarification, please speak with a librarian or with your professor.

Reputation--Consider where the data or information is coming from.

  • Authorship: Who wrote the item? What are their credentials? Are they affiliated with any reputable institution?
  • Publisher: Is the publisher a scholarly press? What is their reputation? If you are unfamiliar with a publisher, investigate their website.
  • Review Process: Do items undergo any kind of formal review process? If so, how rigorous is this process? Who are involved in this review process, and how many are involved? What are their credentials and who are they affiliated with?

Content--How easily are readers able to scrutinize the author's work? Scholarly works can include research design and methodology to help readers assess the quality of information.

  • Language:  Does the item use language geared for experts in the field? If it uses language appropriate for general audiences it probably isn't scholarly.
  • References:  Scholars build from and add to the work of others. Scholarly items give proper honor and attribution by citing prior works.

Target--For whom is this item intended and why?

  • Audience:  Scholarly works are written by and for academics. Glossy magazines filled with color images and sold in grocery stores are meant for general audiences.
  • Intent:  Scholarly works are solely intended to enhance scholarship, adding to the body of knowledge in a particular field. The knowledge presented is expected to be objective. The presence of bias or the intent to persuade readers falls outside this stated purpose. That is why scholarly journals have minimal to no advertising.

The structure of a scholarly article

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article: NCSU Libraries

The body of an article is usually presented in sections, including an introduction, a literature review, one or more sections describing and analyzing the argument, experiment or study. Scientific research articles typically include separate sections addressing the Methods and Results of the experiment, and a Discussion of the research findings.

CRAAP Test -- Evaluate a Single Source

The CRAAP Test -- Whether reading a book, article, or website, be an information skeptic--scrutinize, analyze, and evaluate your sources.
 
Currency:
• 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?
 
Relevance:
• How well does this suit your topic or answer your questions? 
• Who is the intended audience?
• Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?
 
Authority:
• Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
• Are the author’s credentials or organizational affliations given?
• What are the author’s qualifications to write on the topic?
• Is there a way to contact the author?
 
Accuracy
• Where does the information come from?
• Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
• Can you verify any of the information?
• Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion? 
 
Purpose
• Is the purpose to inform, sell, entertain, or persuade?
• Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions clear?
• Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?