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Ask yourself the following:
- How is this type of information relevant to my project? Does it fall into a distinct category (a policy paper, news piece, social media, scholarly journal article, etc.)? Why cite it?
- Who created this information, and what is their expertise and biases?
- When was the source produced and does this impact the relevance of the information to my project? Is it current information? Is it retrospective? Can you tell if the information is outdated?
- Where was the source published or distributed? Was it found on a specific platform?
- Why was this source created? To inform, express an opinion, persuade?
Identifying Scholarly Writing
Scholarly sources aka academic scholarship tends to come from people (like your professors) producing knowledge within the university system, and is written primarily for an academic community, or others in the field who are engaging in ongoing scholarly conversation:
- Look for the author's credentials or institutional affiliation.
- May use highly specialized language, specific to a discipline or area of study.
- Includes extensive citations, bibliographies, or footnotes, showing the author is aware of a body of scholarship relevant to the field.
- The content has been published by an academic institution or university press.
- The author's work is often "peer reviewed" or has gone through a rigorous editorial process by fellow experts in the field, which can take a long time.
Different Types of Information Sources
Scholarship and knowledge production also takes place outside of the academy. This may manifest in various forms and disseminated through a variety of platforms:
- Legal documents
- Mission driven work of activists and advocacy groups
- Opinion pieces
- Journalism, news media
- Social media
- Traditional, indigenous, and local knowledge
Some sources may take an obviously subjective approach, or use personal experiences to get points across to an audience, with the intent of evoking an emotional response. You may find overlap between traditional and non-traditional scholarship and instances of practitioners working both in and outside of the academy.