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ENGR 1051 Tutorials

Hints - Popular Source


  • Look for the author(s). What academic degrees do they have? Where do they work? Are their degrees and work experience related to the topic of the article? Could they be considered to be experts in the subject?
    • Popular sources are generally written by journalists or writers who may have education and experience in writing and journalism, but not necessarily the topic of the article.


  • Look for the content and purpose. What is the article trying to achieve? For example, is it trying to entertain, to inform, to sell a product, to report on research, to convince, to argue, etc.?  What is the intended audience of the article--the general public or experts in the topic?
    • Popular sources generally have the aim of educating the general public about a topic.

Larger Publication/Review Process

  • Look for the title of the larger publication in which the article appeared. What kind of publication is it? Who is the publisher--a publishing company, a university, a professional organization? Does this publication have a peer review process?
    • Popular sources are generally published by publishing companies.
    • Popular sources undergo editing and review for things like style, grammar, and clarity.


  • Look for a bibliography or works cited list. Does the article cite other sources in a formal way?
    • Popular sources may reference or quote other people or works, but usually do not have formal citations.


  • Look for images. Are they mostly artistic and decorative--for example, a photograph of the research lab? Or do they provide informational content necessary to understanding the article--for example, a chart that provides data from an experiment?
    • Popular sources have images that tend to be mostly decorative, although they may have some informational images (for example, a newspaper article about a wildfire may have a map showing what territory the wildfire covers).

Note: The answers to some of these questions may not be in the article itself. You may need to do some searching online to find the answers.