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CRJ 1010 Introduction to Criminal Justice System


Finding good sources isn't just about searching. You need to evaluate how good they are and whether they fit your needs. 

There are a number of ways to do this, but using the C.R.A.A.P. checklist and lateral reading are two excellent options.
You may also want to double-check whether you are looking at something more academic or a popular article. Always go back to the original source rather than cite the popular article.


The CRAP Checklist is a tool that can help you determine if a resource is useful for college level writing.  Each letter in CRAP stands for a concept:

  • Currency
  • Reliability
  • Authority
  • Purpose

Asking these questions can help evaluate the information you are finding, each letter in CRAP has four yes or no question.  The more "yes" boxes you tic off, the higher the score, the better the resource.

Try It!

Use the CRAP Checklist below to evaluate what you find.

Popular Vs Scholarly

Popular Articles:
Scholarly Articles:
  • Written by journalists, professional writers, or bloggers. The authors' credentials are not readily apparent.
  • Written for the average reader
  • Written to be easily understandable to a wide audience
  • Usually without formal citations
  • Colorful images and advertisements present
  • Websites, blogs, newspapers. These can also found in databases such as Lexis Nexis Academic, Newspaper Source, and MagPortal
  • Popular journals do not use a peer-review process. Trusted sources will edit and fact-check material before publishing it.
  • Written by academics, professors and experts. The author’s credentials are usually provided.
  • Written for professionals, professors, college and graduate students
  • More advanced language and jargon
  • Citations and a bibliography or works cited page will be provided
  • No advertisements,  no or few images
  • Often found in library databases such as Academic Search Complete, PsycINFO, ERIC, and JSTOR
  • Articles are peer reviewed. Scholarly journals only publish articles after they have gone through a peer-review process where other experts in the field confirm the accuracy of research methodology and findings.
Examples of Popular Publications:
Examples of Scholarly Publications:
  • The New Yorker
  • Time Magazine
  • Huffington Post
  • Journal of Youth and Adolescence
  • Journal of School Nursing
  • Contemporary Justice Review
Did You Know?

You can limit your search to scholarly articles by checking the "peer-reviewed articles" filter before or after you search in a library database.

Lateral Reading

Lateral Reading

Lateral reading is a method used by professional fact-checkers to determine a source's credibility:

  • Open new tabs and search for information about the website you're reading from Wikipedia or credible news sources.
  • Look for information about the mission, funding, and potential biases.
  • Go beyond the news story and look for the original resource or other scholarly information using Library resources.




Library Information

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