ENGL 1106: Evaluating Sources

Common kinds of Information

Type Popular Periodical

Trade Publication

Academic Journals

Scientific American



Journal of Civil Engineering and Management



Journalist or specialist

Someone working in the field or a journalist who specializes in reporting in a field

Researcher or expert in the field


General Public

People working in the Field

Researchers, scholars, experts with credentials


To entertain or inform

To inform through practical information for professionals working in a field

To notify and explain specific often original research


Glossy with advertisements for a general audience

Semi-Glossy with advertisements for professionals in a particular field

Long articles. Often include charts, graphs, and statistics.

Little or no advertising.


Rare. Perhaps links

Occasional. One or two citations

Extensive citations

Evaluation Criteria

How do you decide which sources to use for your projects? Here are some questions to ask yourself as you evaluate the sources you find:

  • Who? Who created the information? What are their qualifications? How do those qualifications relate to the context in which you will use the information. 
  • What? What content is included? What kinds of evidence are used? Does the content connect to your topic? 
  • Why? What is the purpose of this source? Can you detect any attempts by the creator to deceive or provoke a reaction? 
  • Where? Where did you obtain it? Where (or by whom) was it published? 
  • When? How current is the information? Does its currency affect its accuracy? 

Popular and Scholarly