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Assignment | Controversial Topic Research Essay (Pentecost): Non-academic Sources

ENGL 1302 | Prof. R. Pentecost (Spring 2022)

These types of sources more probably familiar to you. They're often available for free online, and they're not written with the formal tone of academic papers (hence 'popular' -- regular people are the audience).

Characteristics of Popular, Non-academic Articles:

  • Authors often aren't degreed or trained in the specific field they're writing on. (Think of journalists covering various news stories.)
  • No formal citations. You might see narrative citations referring to interviews or a list of places to "learn more."
  • These are usually produced for a more general audience, and will provide more background explanation in simpler language.
  • Published by a variety of entities of varying reputations.

Source titles might be descriptive, or they might be vague and enticing (or even misleading!). These sources often drop in stock art for decoration and may have ads on the page.


  • Magazine articles
  • Newspaper articles
  • Credible websites (e.g., .gov, some .org sites)


Make Google Work Harder:

Limit a Google search to a particular domain by adding or to your search. You can also search a specific domain, e.g. or Try it below!

Note: be cautious with .org. It's slightly more restrictive than a regular .com or .net, but... it doesn't take much to form an organization with a .org page. If you've never heard of them before, do some cross-referencing of their claims or just look for articles about the organization on Google.

Google Web Search

Discover Websites with Opposing Viewpoints

Websites will be one of the options on a main topic page in Opposing Viewpoints.When you look up a topic overview in Opposing Viewpoints, you get a variety of source types back, one of which is websites. This section just recommends some major entities who are involved in policy or advocacy or public information for a topic.



Bolded search terms means there's a topic overview page.Hint: you'll know you're getting a topic overview page with the options like those shown to the right if the term is in bold in the suggested search list that appears when you start typing.

Recommended Databases

Accessing the Databases

Access online library materials through the library databases!

To access the databases locked icon (same icon that displays by the LSC-limited access resources) from off-campus, you will be prompted to enter your 14-digit library barcode or your LSC email/password.

Don't have a barcode but want one? Request a barcode number online.

Evaluating Information

The CRAAP Test

Evaluate your source's...


CRAAP test factors: Currency, Relevance, Accuracy, Authority, Purpose

Also, The Three Rs

Is your source
Recent? Reliable? Relevant?

Is this source up-to-date? Is it about my topic, and does it go into enough depth? Does it come from an authoritative source? Is the information accurate (and are there citations given to back it up)? And why was this information written in the first place?