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Zombie Survival Guide: "Were you bitten?"

Study up on zombie-related holdings at the Muntz Library before the Zombie Apocalypse!

Why You Need to Be Critical

Have you found the most authoritative, accurate, objective, up-to-date, scholarly information available about zombies? Be careful: the wrong information could be deadly!

"In April 1982, [Harvard-trained] ethnobotanist Wade Davis arrived in Haiti to investigate two documented cases of zombis -- people who had reappeared in Haitian society years after they had been officially declared dead and had been buried. The Serpent and the Rainbow combines anthropological investigation with a remarkable personal adventure to illuminate and finally explain a phenomenon that has long fascinated Americans."

See: Haitian Zombies and Puffer Fish Poison (reports on: Hines, Terence. "Zombies and Tetrodotoxin". Skeptical Inquirer May/June 2008: 60-62.)

Also see: Voodoo Science (Science 15 April 1988: Vol. 240 no. 4850 pp. 274-277 DOI: 10.1126/science.3353722)

Finally, see: Dead Man Walking: Wade Davis and the Secret of the Zombie Poison

Basically, these articles (and many more that have been written on the subject) find many faults with his methods and conclusions. (Which in the academic world is a callout for a throwdown.)

Besides, we all know the real reason for zombies is that a super-germ being developed by the government for warfare mutates and somehow infects people, turning them into mindless zombies. Duh.

How to Evaluate Sources

The CRAP Test

The CRAP Test allows you to evaluate sources based on the following criteria: Currency, Reliability, Authority, & Purpose/Point of View.


• How recent is the information?

• How recently has the website been updated?

• Is it current enough for your topic?


• What kind of information is included in the resource?

• Is content of the resource primarily opinion? Is is balanced?

• Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?


• Who is the creator or author?

• What are the credentials?

• Who is the published or sponsor?

• Are the publisher, sponsor, or author reputable?

• What is the publisher's interest (if any) in this information?

• What type of advertisements are on the website?

Purpose/Point of View:

• Is this fact or opinion?

• Is it biased?

• Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?

(adapted from the LOEX 2008 wiki)

  Popular Magazines Trade Journals Scholarly/Refereed Journals
Newsweek Cover Food Engineering magazine cover International Journal of Business Intelligent & Magazine cover
Title of publication:

 May have popular words in the title

Examples: People, Newsweek, Time

 Usually refers to a specific trade, industry, or business area

Examples: Food Engineering, Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, Financial Adviser

 May include the words "journal," "bulletin," or "annals" in the journal name

Examples: International Journal of Business Intelligence & Management, Annals of Combinatorics, Bulletin of Applied Computing & Information Technology

Publishing frequency: More frequently: Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) More frequently: Bi-monthly, monthly, or sometimes weekly Less frequently: Quarterly, semi-annually, or monthly
  • Usually only one author who is a paid journalist (may or may not have subject expertise)
  • Usually shorter in length—3 or fewer pages
  • Titles are catchy
  • Usually only one author who is a professional in the field (has subject expertise)
  • Length can vary, but usually shorter—4 or fewer pages
  • Titles are shorter and catchier than scholarly titles but may include jargon from the field
  • Frequently have more than one author, all professionals, researchers, or experts in the field (credentials are provided)
  • Generally are long in length
  • Article titles can be long and complex or research-sounding
  • Abstract at the beginning
  • Discussion of someone else's research (secondary research)
  • May include personal narrative or opinion
  • Chatty tone
  • Usually, no abstract at the beginning
  • Current news, trends, and products in a specific industry; practical information for professionals working in the field
  •  In-depth accounts of original research findings (primary research)
  • May have an abstract at the beginning
  • Factual rather than opinion (except book reviews)
  • Serious and sober tone
Language/word choice:
  • Easy to understand and read
  • General vocabulary
  • Specialized terminology, such as jargon in the field, but not as technical as a scholarly journal
  • High reading level
  • Specialized terminology or jargon of the field
  • Often highly technical
  • Lots pictures, graphics, and glossy advertisements
  • Heavy use of color
  • Informal layout
  • Some graphics, photographs, and charts
  • Ads are targeted to professionals in the field
  • More informal layout; can be newsletter-like
  • Follows a structured format
  • Articles usually include the following sections: Abstract, Background, Methodology, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, Bibliography, etc.
  • Rare
  • Usually information is attributed to sources from interviews, but articles do not include full citations or bibliographies
  • Occasional brief bibliographies, but not required for publication
  • Citations and references are required for credibility
  • All information is verifiable

Evaluating Web Sites

From Cornell University: How to Identify Scholarly Articles


Check out this guide for examples of good vs. poor quality websites.