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Research Guides

Scholarly Sources

 journal covers     

Reliability rating

Reliability Rating 

A scale from least to most reliable with a white arrow pointing to most reliable.


GREEN: Be thoughtful, these sources undergo a fairly stringent editorial and peer-review process but quality can vary.

What are scholarly articles?

What are scholarly articles and academic journals?

Academic journals and scholarly articles share the following characteristics:

  • They are written for every subject area or academic discipline.
  • They are written by professors, researchers and other scholars
  • They disseminate research and scholarly discussions among scholars (faculty, researchers, students) in a discipline.  
  • They are published by professional associations, university publishers or other academic publishers
  • They are highly specialized and may use technical language
  • They may include graphs and tables
  • They will will cite their sources and include footnotes/endnotes and/or a bibliography/reference list.
  • Most importantly they are peer reviewed (refereed) before publication.

Peer Reviewed (Refereed) Journals

What is peer review?

Need to verify that a journal is peer reviewed (refereed)? Search the Icon of a padlock Ulrichsweb periodicals directory for the title of the journal, if you see this icon icon of a referee jersey the journal is refereed.

Evaluate Scholarly Sources


The TRAAP Test helps you to evaluate the information that you find.  Different criteria will be more or less useful depending on your need.


Timeliness: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Have newer articles been published on your topic?
  • Does your topic require current information or will older sources also work?
  • 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 the one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?


Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author / publisher / source / sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the source?  (More info about URLs and Internet Domains)


Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information

  • 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 biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other 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?


Credits: Content used on this page was adapted from "Is this source of information good?" from Meriam Library, California State University, Chico.