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Pacific Lutheran University

Inquiry. Service. Leadership. Care.

COMA 215-Writing in Communication Careers- Wells: Source Analysis & Evaluation

Research guide for COMA 215, Writing in Communication Careers, spring 2019.

Popular and Scholarly Sources

In academia we distinguish between popular and scholarly sources. Which kind of source you are looking at creates expectations about its content. What are the differences?

Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary and secondary sources occur at different distances from their subject matter. A primary source is the result of direct observation; it is an artifact of direct experience. A secondary source is at least one step removed from a primary source.

Questioning Your Source

Why was this source created? To inform? To persuade? To prove? To demonstrate? To explain?

Is it credible? What makes it so?

  • Can you verify the source's claims?
  • Does it make reference to outside information such that you can identify the sources of that outside information?
  • Is it published in a venue that you trust? (Why do you trust it?)
  • Does it contain bias, unfounded assumptions, gaps, or sensationalism?

Does it support your argument? (If not, does your argument need to change...?)