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Election 2020: Articles, Web Searches, & Evaluating Sources

3 unbiased websites

Distinguishing between Popular and Scholarly Sources

Journals, magazines, and newspapers are important sources for up-to-date information in all disciplines, including politics and elections.

East Central College's print and online journal collection is diverse. It is often difficult to distinguish between the various levels of scholarship found in the collection.

Use this guide, and learn more about these five categories of periodicals:

  • Scholarly or peer-reviewed journal articles are written by scholars or professionals who are experts in their fields. In the sciences and social sciences, they often publish research results
  • Trade journal is practical information for professionals working in the field or industry. It includes current news, trends and products in a specific industry.
  • Substantive news articles are reliable sources of information on events and issues of public concern.
  • Popular articles reflect the tastes of the general public and are often meant as entertainment.
  • Sensational intend to arouse strong curiosity, interest, or reaction. They are not factually accurate.

Keeping these definitions in mind, and realize that none of the lines drawn between types of journals can ever be totally clear cut.

Off Campus Login

You can access all of ECC Library's databases from home.

When you select a specific database (through the Library website) it will prompt you to enter:

Name                                (Jane Smith)

ECC ID # followed by EC  (0123456ec)

What is a Database?

Databases provide access to journals, newspapers, magazines, reference books, images, music, statistics, videos and more.  Majority of these resources are full-text.  These resources are typically more up to date than books.

Databases are credible resources available to ECC students 24/7 from any internet device.

With over 2 dozen databases to choose from, it can be confusing as to where to start.  Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Alphabetical list if you know the title of the database
  • Subject of research to narrow down your search to 5 options
  • Search Core Databases before Related Databases
  • Ask library staff for suggestions
  • Start at EBSCOhost Databases or Credo Reference for general research topics


Using Google Scholar for Academic Research

Google Scholar was developed to assist with academic research. The video below provides excellent instruction on how to use this tool. Remember, you should use Google Scholar to complement academic databases -- not replace them!

CRAAP Test - Current, Relevant, Accurate, Authority, Purpose

Information about almost any subject is easy to find; however, not all information is good information. An essential part of academic research and writing is learning how to critically analyze and evaluate sources to eliminate old, incorrect, or irrelevant information. The CRAAP Test (current, relevant, accurate, authority, purpose) is a guide for analyzing your research sources, including websites, articles and books. Here is a link to an accessible PDF of this information.

By scoring each category on a scale from 1 to 10 (1=worst, 10=best possible), you can give each site a grade on a 50 point scale.


45-50 Excellent 

40-44 Good 

35-39 Average 

30-34 Borderline

Below 30 Unacceptable



Current: The timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • When was it revised or updated?
  • Do you require current information, or will older sources work?
  • Are the links functional?

 Relevant: 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 college level?
  • Are you confident in the source to cite in your paper?

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Is the author qualified on this topic, what are their credentials?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
  • examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net

 Accurate: 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 information in another source?
  • 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 make their 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?

This information has been adapted from "Evaluating Information-Applying the CRAAP Test" by the staff at Meriam Library, California State University-Chico. The source material can be accessed here.
"Evaluating Information-Applying the CRAAP Test." 17 Sept. 2010. Meriam Lib., California State University-Chico. CSU-Chico ReSEARCH Station. Web. 2 July 2013.