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Research Guides

ENGL 104 - Composition & Rhetoric (Spring 2019)

5Ws and H


  • Who wrote the article/book/information?
  • What are that person's credentials? 
  • Which organization is publishing the work?


  • What is the purpose of the publication?  
  • What information does the author present?
  • What information isn't presented?


  • Where can I find more information about the topic?
  • Does the article have citations that I can follow to find more information?
  • Where does the information in the article come from?


  • Is the information presented current?
  • Has the information been updated recently?


  • Why is this information better than other available sources?
  • Why does this article support or undermine your research hypothesis?


  • How does this relate to what you already know?

Scholarly and Popular Sources

It can be very tricky to evaluate sources to determine which ones are scholarly and which ones are popular. When trying to determine whether a source is scholarly or popular, here are some general rules of thumb to keep in mind.




Audience Scholars, professors, graduate students General public; people without a college degree in the subject
Language Heavy use of discipline specific language (jargon) Written for the general public or those interested in the field; avoids jargon
Author Author has documented credentials in the field (e.g. institutional affiliation, degrees, etc.) Authors are typically journalists; they may not have discipline-specific academic qualifications for writing the article 
Bibliography Yes No or limited bibliography
Research Articles are based on original research or a new interpretation of earlier research. May have a methodology that explains how and what they did Research is usually limited to background fact-finding to support the article rather than original research
Publisher (Books) University presses (e.g. Oxford University Press, Duke University Press, etc.) or trade academic presses (e.g. Routledge, De Gruyter) Trade presses (Simon and Schuster, Viking, etc.), vanity presses, self-publishing
Periodical Examples Journal of Biological Chemistry; History and Theory;  Educational Psychology Psychology Today;  Scientific American;  Time