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SOC 103-Y50 - Rondell Merrill - Spring 2024

Research is a Process

But your friendly neighborhood librarians are here to help!

Let's talk about the how's and why's of research! 

Cooked shrimp typing quickly on a desktop computer keyboard

Learning Goals for this Research Guide:

  1. Learn how to access and navigate databases offered at Oakton. 

  2. Learn how to categorize and recognize resources as popular, opinion, or scholarly.

  3. Develop a vetting resources process to check credibility of a publisher, author, group, or institution.

  4. Create citations for resources used for assignment research.

  5. Reminder about Oakton friendly neighborhood Library staff as research resources!


Follow this link for a quick intro activity:

Popular vs Scholarly Resources

Popular Source Section Title Button with picture of newspapers

Popular resources are written for a large, general audience, and are easily accessible to the public, often free of charge. Popular resources are written to inform, persuade, or entertain their audiences. These sources often answer factual questions like who, what, where, when, why, and how. When you are looking for information about current events, they are a great resource. Some examples of reputable popular resources include:

A few things to remember about popular sources:

  • Popular resources often may not cite their sources.

  • Some popular resources are produced by organizations which have an agenda and want you to be persuaded to look at a given topic in a particular way. 

  • Popular sources can contain opinion/editorials, and news articles. These two types of articles offer very different kinds of information.

Opinion vs. News Section Title ButtonIt is important to differentiate between opinion articles and news articles. Here's how to tell them apart!


  • Promotes a single viewpoint.
  • May use "I" or "We."
  • More personal tone.
  • Labeled as: opinion, editorial, review, or analysis.


  • Presents a variety of viewpoints.
  • Contains verifiable facts.
  • Uses "they" or "them."

The SIFT Method Section Title Button

The SIFT Method is a four step strategy for evaluating information for credibility. It was developed by Mike Cauffield. It works like this:

  1. STOP! Are you familiar with the source you have found? If you aren't familiar with the source or how reliable it is, proceed to step two.
  2. Investigate the source. Take a quick minute and look up this source on Wikipedia. Who are they? What is their possible bias or interest in the topic?
  3. Find better coverage. Look up the information on sites you know are reliable. Use fact checking tools and sites to check the reputation of various sources and build a network of sites whose credibility is well-established that you can use to verify information.
  4. Trace the claims back to the original context. Including links, images, and video. 


Article 1:


Article 2:


Article 3:,cookie,shib&db=a9h&AN=148764575&site=ehost-live&scope=site&custid=s8990239

Is Article 1:
Opinion?: 1 votes (5.56%)
Scholarly?: 0 votes (0%)
Popular/Informational?: 17 votes (94.44%)
Total Votes: 18
Is Article 2:
Opinion?: 16 votes (59.26%)
Scholarly?: 3 votes (11.11%)
Popular/Informational?: 8 votes (29.63%)
Total Votes: 27
Is Article 3:
Opinion?: 2 votes (8.33%)
Scholarly?: 20 votes (83.33%)
Popular/Informational?: 2 votes (8.33%)
Total Votes: 24