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Communication Studies 210 & 240: Public Speaking & Business/Professional Communication

This guide provides resources for finding, evaluating and citing sources.

Part 2: Scholarly & Popular Sources

Evaluating Sources

Depending on your topic, an initial search for sources could lead to hundreds of results that look promising. How do you navigate through all of them?

1.) Refining your search terms and your topic is one useful way to identify the most helpful results.

  • For instance, if you search for "nonverbal communication" and don't find much, you may wish to try a related term, such as "body language," and/or a more specific type of nonverbal communication, such as "eye contact" or "facial expressions".
  • Similarly, you may initially be interested in body language around the world, but find that, due to the number of results, it is more helpful to focus on a specific region or country.

2.) Evaluating your search results using the questions below can also help you identify the most relevant results for your particular topic and assignment. These questions can be used not only with the Libraries' resources, but also with websites.

  • What type of document is your source? Consider if it is fact or opinion. Types of sources you may encounter include articles, books, columns, conference proceedings, editorials, websites, blogs, and reviews. 
  • When was your source written? Is the information current? What else was going on in the world at the time your source was written?
  • Why was your source written? Is the author trying to share information, prove a point or issue a call to action?
  • Where was your source published (journal, newspaper, magazine, website, etc.)? What can you find out about the reputation of this publication, either on its website or through a Google search?
  • Who are your source's author(s)? What can you find out about them, either from the source itself or through additional searching?
    • If there is no author listed, is an organization or institution serving as the author? If so, what can you find out about this organization and its reputation?

3.) Filtering your search results, based on your topic, assignment guidelines, and answers to some of the questions above, is a third way to identify relevant results.

  • For instance, you may learn that a new technique for studying nonverbal communication using eye-tracking software emerged in 2005. If you are interested in this technique, you could limit your search to only return resources published in or after 2005.


The questions above provide criteria to help you get started in evaluating sources. The activity below presents other factors to consider as you learn about the distinctions between scholarly and popular sources through three short videos.

Directions: At the end of each video is a short quiz to test your knowledge. After you watch all three videos, you will receive a completion certificate. Please be sure to e-mail yourself a copy of this certificate.


Click the "Start" button below to begin.

Scholarly and Popular Sources Tutorial                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     






  Scholarly vs. Popular Articles