Skip to main content

FYS 100 (28): Noble Beasts: Animals in Our Lives and Literature: Evaluating Sources for Quality

Think Like a Journalist

The basic rules for evaluating a source for quality can be summarized in terms of  the "5 W's" of journalism: Who, What, When, Where, Why.

Who produced the document, image, video, sound file, etc. and what do you know about them, their credentials, and their motives?

What is the factual or emotional content of the source and does it reflect reality? Is the information provided accurate?

When was it produced and does that time frame alter its potential usefulness?

Where was it published and does that publisher evaluate sources before publishing them?  Does the place of publication reflect on the competence or impartiality of the source?  Is this a republication and, if so, where was it originally published?

Why was the item produced and published?  To educate?  To influence?  To sell something?  To promote the creator?


Characteristics of Scholarly & Popular Articles:

Popular Articles Scholarly Articles
  •  Are often written by journalists or professional writers for a general audience.
  • Use language easily understood by general readers.
  • Are often fairly short. They may also be more personal or anecdotal.
  • Rarely give full citations for sources.
  • Are written by and for faculty, researchers or scholars.
  • Use scholarly or technical language.
  •  Tend to be longer and reports the results of research conducted by the author.
  •  Include full citations for sources.
  •  Are often refereed or peer reviewed.

Scholarly vs. Popular