For each source you use you want to make sure it is:
Relevant - Does it answer your research question?
Current - Is the content presented current enough for your project?
Accurate - Is the information provided correct?
Authoritative - Does the author have expertise on the topic about which she is writing?
Objective - Is the information biased? Is the author trying to persuade you to believe a certain way?
Popular material is created by journalists, staff writers or freelance writers. This type of information is aimed at the general public. It usually provides a broad overview of topics a general readership will find entertaining. Use popular material sparingly, if at all.
Examples: Magazines like People Weekly or Maxim.
Substantive material is produced by scholars or credentialed journalists and is geared toward an educated audience. It provides credible information of relevance to an educated and concerned public. Substantive information is a great choice for community college students, because it is both credible and accessible.
Example: National Geographic
Scholarly material is produced by scholars/experts whose credentials can be evaluated. Aimed at other scholars, it disseminates specialized and discipline-specific information, often reporting on original research and experimentation. Scholarly information is a great choice for college students, though it can be challenging to read because of its scholarly language. Scholarly sources are often called academic or peer-reviewed.
Example: Journals like the Journal of the American Medical Association
See the following criteria to help you identify popular magazines, trade magazines, and scholarly journals.