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WAK PHI243/BUS242: Business Ethics

Evaluating Sources Tutorial

This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license.

Thank you to the NCSU Libraries for creating and sharing this tutorial.

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

We've learned that different sources are created with different audiences in mind to fulfill different purposes. Taking time to consider a source's author, audience, and purpose will help you understand the information shared in the source and use it appropriately. Complete the activity below to practice differentiating popular and scholarly source types based on their author, audience, and purpose.

1. Review Example Sources

Without reading or watching each source in full, review the 5 source examples below. Make note of details that point to each source's author, audience, and purpose.

Tip: Each example link will open in a new window. Once you've opened all the sources, compare them. What are the similarities and differences in the ways the sources are formatted and made available?

Research Article

News Source 1

Textbook Chapter

News Source 2


2. Complete the Drag-and-drop Source Spectrum Activity

After you've decided where each example source falls on the Source Spectrum, Arrange the source tiles on the spectrum. The more popular a source seems, the further left it goes. The more scholarly a source is, the further right it falls on the spectrum. Once you're satisfied with how you ordered the examples sources from popular to scholarly, check your answer for feedback.

3. Reflect

Discuss or reflect on the following questions:

  • What evidence did you find in the example sources that helped you decide where these sources go on the spectrum?
  • How could you use News Source 2 and the Research article from the examples above in a college-level paper?

Identifying Scholarly Books

Unlike scholarly articles, it can be challenging to determine whether a book is scholarly or not. Look for the following clues:

  • Author credentials - is the author employed at a university, scholarly, or research organization? 
  • Publisher - is it published by a university press, scholarly or professional organization? Google the publisher to find out more.
  • Look for existence of "bibliographical references". The more pages of references, the more likely the book is an academic, research-based publication. 
  • Who is the intended audience? General or specialized? Does it use specialized or technical language?
  • Book reviews - can you find a review of the book in a scholarly article database like Philosopher's Index, America: History and Life, or ProQuest One Business