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HSS 3110 -- Social Policy and Inequality

What does "peer review" mean?

Peer review is a process in which other scholars in the author's field or specialty critically assess a draft of the article. Peer reviewed, or refereed, journals are scholarly journals that only publish articles that have gone through this review process.

A scholarly journal is visibly different from other periodicals/magazines, but sometimes it's hard to tell. You can look on the journal's web page (often under the "About" or "For Authors" link.) Or you can a tool called Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory to check.

Evaluating information sources

How to evaluate information sources

Use the criteria below to help you evaluate the information you find to determine if it is appropriate for your research. Remember that different criteria will be more or less important depending on the topic or purpose of your research.

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 for 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?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
    examples: .com (commercial) .edu (education) .gov (government) .org (organization) .net (network)

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 of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, 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?

The CRAAP evaluation criteria were originally developed at Meriam Library at CSU Chico.