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English 101: Evaluating Sources

A resource guide for English 101 library instruction sessions taught by Digital Scholarship Librarian, Colleen Robledo Greene.

Evaluating different types of sources

For academic papers you are often required to gather information and evidence from a variety of sources, including scholarly, popular, and trade publications. Not everything you read, however, is a reliable source of information or appropriate for an academic paper!

You should always check with your instructors to see what expectations they have for sources on their assignments. Then use the resources on this page to critically evaluate whether a source is appropriate for your academic paper.

Evaluating Sources Using the CRAAP Test


The CRAAP Criteria

The CRAAP Criteria:

  • Currency
  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Accuracy
  • Purpose

CRAAP test

What Is a Scholarly Source?

Scholarly, peer-reviewed, or refereed are sometimes used interchangeably. Scholarly sources offer original research and are written by experts in a field for a specific audience of researchers and scholars. They can be journal articles, book chapters, or books. Scholarly sources are based on rigorous research and documentation and are deemed to be of high quality and credibility. By citing scholarly sources, you join the community of scholars and practice ethical and responsible research and writing.

What Is Peer-Review?

Peer-review is a practice to ensure the quality, validity, and reliability of work before it is published. Peers are experts in the author's field of study. Peers make recommendations to the editor regarding suggestions for revisions before accepting an article for publication, or in some cases, rejection for publication. The process can be either single-blind review or double blind review. 

Learn more about the peer-review process in this short video from N.C. State University!

Reading Scholarly Articles


Section Description
Abstract A paragraph briefly summarizing the article
Introduction Provides background, states the purpose of the research, may discuss previous research leading up to the study, and may state a hypothesis or question
Literature Review (OPTIONAL)

Discussion of existing research on the subject (NOTE: Not all papers will have a literature review).

Sometimes, a literature review will be published on its own without original research or analysis being added to it. These are not research articles, but review articles.
Methods (& Materials) Describes how the research was conducted, with details about the study sample, assessment measures and procedure
Results A summary of the findings presented in text or table format, may have individual sections with specific information
Discussion Explains how the results answered the research question
Conclusion Summarizes discussion and may suggest future areas for research
References A listing of works cited by the author(s)


Check Your Sources

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