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Library Research Skills Tutorial

Module 2: Types of Sources

  1. Types of sources and timeline of information productionLibrary books
  2. Scholarly and popular sources
  3. Evaluate your sources with the CRAAP test
  4. Module 2 Quiz

 

Estimate Time: 15 minutes

Types of Sources and Timeline of Information Production

Infographic of types of sources (explained in a word document below)

There are different sources you can use for your assignments. It is up to you as the researcher to evaluate your sources to determine their accuracy and credibility.

When choosing sources, we look at the authority of the authors:

  • Is this their subject expertise?

  • Do they hold an official title or professional designation? (e.g. professor, reporter, community elder, etc.)

  • Do they have special experience with this topic? (e.g. eye witness, first hand historical participant, etc.)

 

Above all, as a researcher, you have to evaluate each source you find for its credibility, trustworthiness and qualifications.

You can use the CRAAP test to help you evaluate your sources and distinguish between authoritative and popular sources.

Tip: Find a source that disagrees with your argument. Incorporating “dissenting” sources into your paper and debating their merit with your other supporting sources is exactly what scholarship is about. Scholarly writing is a conversation and a debate between your ideas and your sources.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is the timeline of how information is produced after an event. 

Infographic of how information is produced (explained in a word document below)

 

 

Scholarly and Popular Sources

Scholarly Sources

In university, one of the authoritative sources you are asked to use is scholarly journal articles. You will also hear the term “peer reviewed” articles.

 

Here are some definitions:

Scholarly Journal Articles:  

  • written by experts (majority have advanced degrees)

  • contain original research

  • cite other sources extensively throughout their work and contain works cited section

  • use academic or complex language, and may include disciplinary or theoretical lingo

  • published by a scholarly press that practices editorial review to ensure that content and context adhere to the expected research parameters

  • intended for an audience composed of researchers, scholars, academics, and other informed or specialized readership

Peer Reviewed

Peer reviewed articles are scholarly articles that have undergone a review process by other experts in the field before being published (hence - reviewed by their peers).

Peer Reviewed Explained in 3 Minutes:

From North Carolina State University Library (Closed Captioned)

 

 

Popular Sources:

Non-scholarly sources can contain a wealth of well-researched information for your topic, but their intended audience and their review process is different than scholarly sources.

MacLeans Magazine cover with Rob Ford - a popular source

 

Here are some definitions:

Popular Sources:

  • include magazines, trade journals, newspapers, books, websites, Youtube etc.,.

  • written or produced for a general audience and are informal in tone and scope

  • rarely cite other sources

  • Magazines, newspapers and books have an editor review the work but are not peer reviewed

  • tend to be short (200-500 words)

 

 

Can I use non-scholarly sources?

Yes, but make sure you follow your assignment guidelines. Some assignments will ask you to use a specific number of peer reviewed articles plus sources of your own choice. Just remember to evaluate your sources to ensure they are appropriate.

Evaluate your Sources with the CRAAP Test

For your assignments, you should consult and cite a mix of sources such as books and journal articles. You can start by looking at the requirements of the assignment to see if you need a certain number sources or a specific type of source.

 

Choosing appropriate sources is important. You will have to critically evaluate all your sources. One way to evaluate sources is through the CRAAP test.

Evaluating your Sources

From the University of Western Ontario Libraries (Closed Captioned)

The CRAAP Test Poo Emoji

 

Currency:

  • How current is the resource?
  • When was the resource published or posted?
  • Is this the most current version of this information available?
  • Has the information been revised / updated? Is there proof of last update, publication date?
  • Is currency of information a concern for your topic?

Relevance

  • Does the resource meet your needs?
  • Is the information related to your topic?
  • Does it support your viewpoint or provide an alternate one?
  • Is the information and discussion at an appropriate level? Who is the intended audience (general population, scholars, practitioners etc.)?

Accuracy:

  • Is the information in the resource reliable?
  • Are the author’s claims supported by evidence?
  • Has the content been reviewed by other experts? Is it a peer-reviewed resource?
  • Are the language and tone biased?
  • Are there spelling or grammatical errors?

Authority:

  • Who wrote/produced/published the resource?
  • Is the source published by an academic publisher or a reputable organization?
  • Is an author clearly identified? What are the author’s credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic? Degrees, professional designations, professional accomplishments and experience are indicators of qualifications.
  • If it is a website, does the url reveal anything about the source (.com, .gov, .edu, .org)

Purpose:

  • Why does this resource exist?
  • What is the purpose? Is it to teach, sell, promote, entertain?
  • Do the author(s) make their intentions clear? Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, or personal biases?
  • Is the information provided by the resource fact, opinion?
  • Does it have a variety of viewpoints and arguments? Do your sources reflect different genders, ages, ethnic groups, languages, nationalities, disciplines, etc

Module 2: Quiz