Skip to Main Content

COLS 1000: Food for Thought

Scholarly vs. Popular

Popular Articles (Magazines)

  • Contain colorful photos and pictures
  • Shorter in length (1-5 pages)
  • Written by journalists, staff writers, and freelance writers
  • Generally no credentials provided, sometimes no author named
  • Easy to understand vocabulary
  • Few, if any, references
  • Many ads
  • Written for general readers, lay people, non-experts
  • Vetted by staff editors

Scholarly Journal Articles

  • Contain graphs, charts, and tables that support the text
  • Longer in length (10-30 pages)
  • Written by scholars, researchers, and experts in the field
  • Author credentials are provided
  • Use highly specialized, technical vocabulary
  • Lengthy list of references
  • Minimal advertisements
  • Written for scholars, researchers, and students
  • Articles are usually peer-reviewed [critically evaluated by a board of experts in the field]

The CRAAP Test

Evaluation Criteria


Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional?*

Relevance: The importance of the information to 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 citing this source in your research paper?

Authority:  The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Is the organization or sponsor well known and highly credible on the topic?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?  (examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net)*

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

  • 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 unbiased and free from emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammatical, or typographical errors?

Purpose:  The reason the information exists.

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


*criteria for evaluating websites