Skip to Main Content

Evaluating Information Sources

Use the information on this guide to help you understand and evaluate the different types of information sources.

Scholarly, Popular, or Trade?

It is important to understand the differences between popular, trade, and scholarly periodicals. When you ar doing research for your college classes, it is important to focus on scholarly resources.  Always check with your instructor about using popular or trade publications to make sure they are acceptable for your assignments.


Popular:  Inform and entertain the general public. Magazines like Time or Rolling Stone; or newspapers like the L.A. Times.

Scholarly:  Disseminate research and academic discussion among professionals in a discipline.  Journals such as Journal of Applied Communication Research.  Usually peer reviewed or refereed.

Trade:  Neither scholarly or popular sources, but could be a combination of both.  Allows practitioners in specific industries to share market and production information that improves their businesses.

Image from

Scholarly, Popular, and Trade

What's in them?

Who writes them?

What do they look like?

Who reads them?

What are their advantages?

What are their disadvantages?

Guide Credits

Permission to use and modify content granted by Loyola Marymount University

Mandalios, J. (2013). RADAR: An approach for helping students evaluate Internet sources. Journal Of Information Science, 39, 470-478. doi:10.1177/0165551513478889

Meriam Library at California State University, Chico. (2010, September 17). Evaluating information-Applying the CRAAP test. Retrieved from