Selecting sources requires some critical thinking and evaluation of sources. Think about who the author is, what they know about the topic? Have they included many citations? Does the information seem too simplistic or is there higher level analysis? Are they biased in any way? Remember: scholarly/academic journal articles will always be more credible and authoritative than popular articles.
Popular articles are useful for...
- Background information on a topic
- Information about popular culture
- Information about very recent events that may not be covered yet in academic/scholarly journals or books
- Evidence of opinions
- From Yale University Libraries: "almost any source can be used as evidence that someone believes the idea you quote. Although that may seem self-evident, such evidence can be surprisingly helpful when developing an argument, especially for articulating the research problem of your essay. If the Harvard Crimson publishes a negative article about Yale’s football team, you probably can’t trust that it’s an unbiased assessment. But such an article can still be cited as evidence that “some people have negative opinions about Yale football.” It can also be cited as evidence that “Football matters enough at some Ivy schools to merit coverage in the campus newspaper.” If you compare it to other articles in the issue that describe cross-campus cooperation, then the football article might be used to suggest “Feelings are divided at Harvard about its rivalry with Yale.” In the sciences and social sciences, you might discuss popular, non-expert representations of a key issue, explaining where they go astray—and therefore why your paper is necessary."
Scholarly/Academic Journal articles are useful for...
- Facts and ideas, i.e. providing evidence for your paper's arguments
- Writing papers in your major where the audience has more specialized knowledge of the subject
* adapted from Indiana University Libguides