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English Composition I

This guide will help you explore your topic and find the sources you need for your out-of-class research paper assignment.

Distinguishing source types

Recognizing the type of source you are looking at when researching will help you understand how that source can best be used in your research. There are three elements you can consider to distinguish between different types of sources.

Who is the intended audience?

Is the source intended for a general audience, who doesn't need to know anything about the topic to understand the source? 

Does the source use vocabulary that is more specialized and probably best understood by people who have some knowledge of the subject?

Is the source written at a very specialized and complex level that seems intended for people who are more expert in the subject? 

What type of information does the source provide?

Does the source provide, basic, straightforward, or strictly factual information? Is it intended to educate people who are new to the topic? 

Does the source provide an analysis of an idea or support of a specific thesis?

Does the source present research findings or data?

Does the source offer an opinion on a topic, possibly supported with evidence, but clearly intended to persuade the audience to adopt a certain perspective?

What is the purpose of the source? 

Is the source intended to educate on facts and basic knowledge?

Is the goal of the source to prove an idea using research and analysis?

Is the author's primary purpose to persuade or influence the audience? To sell an idea or product? 

Is the source sharing the results of scientific or social research studies?

STOP and answer question 3 on the assessment.