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Critically evaluating sources

Not all information is good information. Remember to critically evaluate what you find:

Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals

How do you decide if the article you are reading is appropriate to include in your paper?

First, some terminology.

Periodical means something that is published repeatedly. A magazine that is published once a month is a periodical. Journals and newspapers are also periodicals. A book that is published once is not a periodical, it is a monograph

When you search in Omni, you will see results from all sorts of publications: magazines, academic articles, theses, books, reports, and more!

Learn how to distinguish between scholarly and popular resources in the following video:


Let's review some of the characteristics of popular and scholarly sources:


  • intended for a general audience and are not usually written by researchers or professors
  • the author's name and affiliation may not be given
  • no abstract at the beginning of articles
  • seldom contain footnotes or a bibliography
  • articles are often enhanced with glossy photos or other illustrations
  • articles are often short - fewer than 5 pages
  • often full of advertising
  • examples: The Economist, Time, Maclean's, Psychology Today, Newsweek


  • written for an academic audience and uses specialized vocabulary
  • author' credentials and institution will be identified
  • usually an abstract at the beginning of articles
  • footnotes and/or a bibliography
  • may contain charts and tables but generally not glossy photos or other graphics
  • articles will usually be longer than 5 pages
  • journals contain little or no advertising
  • examples: Journal of Communication, Journal of Sport Management, Lancet

Need help? Contact the library or your liaison librarian for more help.


Plagiarism is defined in Brock University's Academic Misconduct Regulations as "…presenting work done (in whole or in part) by someone else as if it were one's own."

Avoid it by citing sources for all ideas and words that are not your own. For more info:

APA Style