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WR 121 (Sauvageau) - Fall 2019

Research guide for literary analysis & argumentative essays

Source Evaluation

Source evaluation is a deeper examination of your sources -- determining a source's type, characteristics, etc. From these evaluations, you'll then decide if a source is a good fit for your research.

Source Types

Source types are more than just book, journal, webpage, etc. You'll also want to determine if the source is a popular or a scholarly source.

  • Popular sources are everyday sources. They're written and produced to be read by anyone and everyone.
  • Scholarly sources are more selective. They're written and produced to be read by scholars, researchers, students, etc.

Here's a table that illustrates the differences between the two types of sources.

  Popular Scholarly
Purpose current events, entertainment, summary share research results, advance knowledge in a field
Audience general scholars, researchers, students
Authors journalists, often unnamed researchers, experts, always named
Characteristics shorter length, informal, few citations longer length, formal, more citations, peer-reviewed*

Peer-reviewed articles have been reviewed and accepted for publication by a selected panel of recognized experts in the field of study covered by the journal (also know as the author's peers).

Source Characteristics

Source characteristics help you determine if the information from the source is reliable.

  • Authority: What is the author's background about the topic? What are the author's credentials? Is he or she an expert?
  • Currency: Is the information current? Or is it older? Does this affect the research?
  • Objectivity: Is the author objective about the topic? Or does the information provide a more subjective point of view?
  • Coverage: Does the information cover all aspects of the topic? Or only a small portion?
  • Accuracy: Is the information accurate? Does it confirm information from other sources?
  • Relevance: Is the information relevant to may topic? Or does it veer off-track?
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