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Designing Better Research Assignments

Compare Sources

  • Have students compare a popular source (e.g. popular magazine or newspaper) with a scholarly source (e.g. peer-reviewed article). Both sources should deal with the same topic.


  • Provide students with a number of sources, which you, the course instructor have pre-selected. Students can work in pairs or groups, but each group should have 2-3 sources to examine. Have students answer questions about the sources:
    • What is it (website, book chapter, news story, research article, etc.)?
    • Who is the author and what expertise does the author have (they will need to research this)?
    • Who is the intended audience?
    • How could you use this source? What does it tell you?
  • Option: Have each group present their findings to the other groups.


  • Have students compare a Wikipedia entry with a traditional encyclopedia entry and compare the strengths and weaknesses. As a class, you can come up with criteria you want to use to evaluate the encyclopedia sources.


  • Students do research to locate two articles on the same topic, but the articles take different perspectives or provide a different analysis. Students present or share their findings.


University of Texas Libraries. Information Literacy Toolkit. Retrieved from

University of Alberta Library. Augustana Plan for the Integration of Information Literacy (APIIL). Retrieved from:

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