The information on this page will help you identify information sources that are appropriate for PBL learning needs.
Review the information below to learn more about:
What is the distinction between popular and scholarly sources? Below is a chart comparing works with a more scholarly focus and those that are less so. Additionally, there are three main types of publications:
For a detailed chart comparing these three types of publications, visit:
|More Scholarly||More Popular|
|Publishing source: Academic journals, government, some magazines and journals||Publishing source: Trade journals, magazines, newspapers, websites, blogs|
|Author: Expert on the topic, someone who works in or knows that field||Author: Anyone; may be a reporter or someone who feels like writing on the topic|
|Audience: Specialized (often of peers or students), people interested in the topic||Audience: The general public|
|Goal: To inform or present research; answer the "so what?" questions, make connections between variables/issues||Goal: Generally to entertain or persuade, may inform; answers the "who, what, where, and when" questions|
|Content: Research-based||Content: Reporting events, the findings of others, or personal experiences; opinion-based|
|Reviewers/Editors: Generally peer-reviewed or fact-checked by peers or staff editors||Reviewers/Editors: Staff editor may review|
|Format: Standardized (for scholarly articles and formal reports); variable for other publications||Format: Variable: includes websites, blogs, and infographics|
|Citations: Generally includes references, footnotes and/or links to sources||Citations: Usually none, may link to related resources|
|Vocabulary: Complex, generally technical and focused on the field, formal||Vocabulary: Familiar, non-technical; may focus on an emotional appeal|
|Graphics: Used to illustrate a point||Graphics: Used for visual impact|
|Title: May include: report, study, findings||Title: Often general, usually catchy|
|Examples: Annals of Psychology, Mother Jones, National Academies Press||Examples: People, Time, My Blog|
Information can come from a variety of sources. Knowing the author's background, purpose, and audience are a few of the ways to evaluate your source.
A popular method used to evaluate sources is the CRAAP test:
Note: Websites such as Wikipedia, Web MD, Mayo Clinic, etc. are good for your own knowledge, but not as a PBL source.
The Peer Review Process is one process of publication where authors submit their work for review by members of that profession. These peers then determine if this work is suitable for publication.
When doing evidence-based research, always start with the highest level of evidence. If you cannot find a systematic review search for a Randomized Controlled Trial, if no RCTs, go on to the next level of evidence. The strength and content of evidence-based sources should also be evaluated through the critical appraisal process.
To learn more about evidence-based searching, visit the library's Evidence-Based Dentistry guide.