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FYS 100 (07): Crime in America: Evaluating Sources for Quality

Think Like a Journalist

The basic rules for evaluating a source for quality are the same as 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?

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
  • Tend to be shorter in length
  • Rarely give full citations for sources - or may refer to sources within the article, but not provide a bibliography list at the end of the article
  • Often have glossy advertisements not related to the article content
  • Are written by and for faculty, researchers or scholars
  •  Use scholarly or technical language
  •  Tend to be longer articles about research or provide results of original research
  •  Include full citations for sources in a bibliography, reference list or footnotes
  •  Are often refereed or peer reviewed
  • Few if any advertisements - will be related to the content of the journal, such as new books or upcoming conferences