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PBL: Retired Runner

This guide suggests keywords and resources to help students address learning needs related to the PBL case "Retired Runner."

Evaluating PBL Sources

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:

  • Scholarly v. Popular
  • Using the CRAAP Test
  • The Peer-Review Process
  • Examining Scientific Evidence

To learn more about Evaluating Sources, visit the library's Evaluating Information Sources guide or the PBL Resource Selection presentation.

Scholarly vs Popular

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:

  • Scholarly sources are intended for academic use with a specialized vocabulary and extensive citations; they  are often peer-reviewed. Scholarly sources help answer the "so what?" questions and make connections between variables (or issues).
  • Popular sources are intended for the general public and are typically written to entertain, inform or persuade. Popular sources help you answer "who, what, where, and when" questions. Popular sources range from research-oriented to propaganda-focused.
  • Trade publications share general news, trends, and opinions in a certain industry; they are not considered scholarly, because, although generally written by experts, they do not focus on advanced research and are not peer-reviewed.

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

Using the CRAAP Test

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:

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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

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.

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Examining Scientific Evidence

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.