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PHL 278: Origins of Life

Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals: A Quick Review

Journal cover   Scholarly Journals

AKA peer reviewed, refereed, academic...

  • Authors are experts/authorities in their fields.
  • Authors cite their sources in endnotes, footnotes, or bibliographies.
  • Individual issues have little or no advertising.
  • Articles must go through a peer-review process (experts in the discipline evaluate each author's work before any articles are published).
  • Articles are usually reports on scholarly research.
  • Illustrations usually take the form of charts and graphs.
  • Articles use jargon of the discipline.
  • Articles are typically five or more pages in length.

Time Magazine    Popular Magazines

AKA consumer, trade, periodical...

  • Authors are magazine staff members/regular columnists or free lance writers.
  • Authors often mention sources, but rarely formally cite them in bibliographies.
  • Individual issues contain numerous advertisements.
  • There is no peer review process.
  • Articles are meant to inform and entertain (thus they are also thought of as consumer publications because they are published for a wide audience).
  • Illustrations are numerous and colorful.
  • Language is geared to the general adult audience (no specialized knowledge of jargon needed).
  • Articles are typically fairly short (one or two columns to one or a few pages).


Compiled by Mary Anne Hansen and Sheila Bonnand

Evaluating Sources Using the CRAAP Method

The CRAAP Test is a method used to evaluate information for appropriate academic quality. Apply the following criteria to your information to see if it should be used. While all these measures can be used on most source types, criteria in red apply to Internet websites. *

Currency = timeliness of the information

  • When was it published?
  • Has it been revised or updated?
  • Do you require current information or will older sources work?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance = the importance of the information

  • Does it relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information presented at an appropriate level?

Authority = credibility of the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the source? (i.e. .gov, .edu., .org, .com, .net)

Accuracy = reliability or truthfulness of the content

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is it supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been peer reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify it in another source?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or typographical errors?

Purpose = reason the information exists

  • Do the authors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion, propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective or impartial?
  • Is the information biased? (i.e. political, ideological, religious, cultural, or personal bias)

* Credit for this content goes to many different libraries.  This is a common evaluation rubric.