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Writing About Writing (WAW) for WRI 1/10

Library resources and perspectives for Writing about Writing (WAW)

Popular and Scholarly

Source Spectrum: Information sources fall on a spectrum of popular to scholarly.

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About Popular Sources Scholarly Sources
Source Types
  • tabloids
  • tweets
  • blog postings
  • government reports
  • magazines
  • newspaper articles
  • Wikipedia entries and more

These popular sources can range from sensationalized writing to serious writing.

  • peer-reviewed journal articles
  • academic books


Primary Audience general public, an interested non-specialist

scholars, researchers, professionals in the field

Authorship anyone, journalist, professional, scholarly or specialist scholars, researchers, professionals in the field
Language uses language that is generally understood

uses much specialized terminology and jargon

Purpose may be intended to deceive, entertain, inform, convince, report, advance a point of view, share information in an interesting way etc. to build on and produce new knowledge; contribute to scholarly conversations
References / Citations none or a limited number; rarely required many; required

Watch the video below (3:56) for an introduction to popular and scholarly sources and how the process of information creation may influence their reliability.


  1. What information sources are associated with popular and scholarly sources?
  2. How quickly are popular and scholarly sources created?

Consider: How might this influence what you find (or do not find)on a specific research question?

Pfau Library (3:56)


Source Reliability: Information sources fall on a spectrum of unreliable to reliable.

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More important than whether or not an article is popular or scholarly, is whether or not it is trustworthy? Is the information reliable or unreliable? To complicate matters, not all source types are always reliable nor are they always unreliable.

  • For instance, a news article could be reliable or unreliable depending on the author, publication, or even news type (opinion vs. reporting). 
  • Even a scholarly article, though generally thought to be reliable, could be unreliable.  See RetractionWatch's Leaderboard for a list of science researchers who have their scholarly papers retracted, often for falsified information!
  • The video "Who Can You Trust?" speaks more on on the topic. Visit the tab above.

Watch the video below (2:46) for strategies to apply in your evaluation of information.


  1. What are the main strategies suggested for assessing the reliability of information?
  2. Which of these strategies do you already use? 
  3. Which of these strategies is perhaps more challenging for you?

from GCFLearnFree.og (2:46)


Watch the video below for a crash course in thinking about information evaluation (14:46).  The host speaks about the concepts of authority and perspective. If you're not sure about the length, try at least the first minute!


  1. The host speaks of two primary considerations when evaluation information.  What are they?
  2. Fill in the Blank: The host encourages us to "leave sites to understand them".  This involves not just vertical reading but _____________ reading.
  3. It is important to think about the process by which information is created. True or False?
  4. What word does the host prefer to use as a replacement for bias and why?

Who Can You Trust? with David Green, Navigation Digital Information (CrashCourse); involved collaboration with MediaWise, Poynter Institute, and the Stanford History Education Group