Skip to main content

SOCC45: Youth and Society

Winter 2018

Comparing Sources

Seven criteria for evaluating sources.

  Scholarly/Academic Source Non-scholarly/Popular Source
  • To share with other scholars the results of primary research & experiments.
  • To entertain or inform in a broad, general sense.
  • A respected scholar or researcher in the field; an expert in the topic; names are always noted.
  • A journalist or feature writer; names are not always noted.
  • A university press; a professional association or known (independent) scholarly publisher.
  • A commercial publisher; self-published.
  • Scholars or researchers in the field or those interested in the topic at a research level; university students.
  • General public.
  • Formal presentation of scholarly work in a standard style; often an abstract at the beginning of the article. Articles may have section headings, such as literature review, methodology, results, discussion/further study.
  • Often presented in story format, with anecdotes from other people.
  • Language is formal and technical; usually contains discipline-specific jargon.
  • Language is casual (high school reading level or lower). Few, if any, technical terms are used (and if they are, they are usually defined.)
  • Standard element; reference are always cited and expected; can also be called "works cited," or "bibliographies;" text often contains footnotes.
  • Very uncommon; text may contain vague referrals to "a study published at..." or "researchers found that..." with no other details about that information.



Adapted from the Valparaiso University Library.

Evaluating Websites

6 Criteria for Evaluating Websites

  • Is it clear who is responsible for the contents of the page?
  • Is there a way of verifying the legitimacy of the organization, group, company, or individual?
  • Is there any indication of the author's qualifications for writing on a particular topic?
  • Is the information from sources known to be reliable?
  • Are the sources for factual information clearly listed so they can be verified in another source?
  • Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and other typographical errors?
  • Does the content appear to contain any evidence of bias?
  • Is there a link to a page describing the goals or purpose of the sponsoring organization or company?
  • If there is any advertising on the page, is it clearly differentiated from the informational content?
  • Are there dates on the page to indicate when the page was written or when the page was last revised?
  • Is the subject successfully addressed, with clearly presented arguments and adequate support?
  • Does the work update other sources, substantiate other materials you have read, or add new information?
  • Is the target audience identified and appropriate for your needs?
  • Does the site look well organized and professional?
  • Do the links work?
  • Does the site appear well maintained?

Adapted from the Lydia M. Olson Library