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Foundations of Higher Education 100 (FHE 100)

Guide designed for West Coast University's FHE 100 class.

Scholarly Vs. Popular

Most assignments will require scholarly or academic sources. What qualifies as a scholarly source and how you can tell the difference between scholarly sources and popular sources?

Need help to determine if the resource qualifies as a scholarly resource? Consult with a Library staff member.

Professional Publications

Professional or trade publications may be scholarly publications, but they may not be. These publications are written by people in a given field for other professionals within the same field. They often contain jargon and information that is not intended to be easily understood by people who are not a part of that field. Though the same degree of professional knowledge and expertise may go into the composition of trade publications, the information in these publications is not necessarily peer-reviewed or useful in academic research. Examples of these publications include best practices information, manuals, and organizational newsletters.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources

Be careful when using secondary and tertiary sources because the further you get from the original primary source, the more opportunities have existed to slant the information, misinterpret the findings, or otherwise alter the information.

Questions to ask when evaluating resources (CAARP)

One system system to gauge the credibility of a resource, especially when looking at online resources, is the CAARP method:

C - Currency - How recently was the source written or posted? Is it out of date? Is more recent information available? If the information has been updated, when?

A - Authority - Who wrote the source?  What credentials do they have? What organization(s) is the author affiliated with?

A - Accuracy - Where does the author get their information? Do the authors cite the references they used? How reliable is the information being conveyed?

- Relevancy - Does this source support/refute your topic, i.e. does the source relate to your topic?  Does the source have value to your topic?  Who is the intended audience? Has the source been reviewed?

P - Purpose - Why did these authors write this article?  What is their intent? Inform? Persuade? Is there a bias, or agenda being promoted in the source?  Is the author trying to sell something?


Evaluating Websites

What's in a name? The domain name (main part of the website) includes the registered website title and a period followed by a three character extension. These extensions can provide insight into the credibility of the website:


  • .gov -  site is run by a governmental organization.
  • .edu - site is run by an educational institution.
  • .org - site is run by a non-profit organization. Beware that any type of "non-profit" organization can acquire these domain name extensions.
  • .com - site is run by a company or a corporation.  The content may be designed by an educational institution, but the site itself is run by a commercial company.

Additional Tips


An excellent place to find new information sources about your topic is in the Reference or Bibliography lists of relevant articles and textbooks. If your library location does not have a specific resource, we can help you locate it, even outside of West Coast University.  Bibliographies can indicate the titles of journals and/or articles where you may find more information on the same topic.

Class Resources

Your required and recommended textbooks and readings are great resources about your subject!  Also, note the authors of these resources and seek out additional publications by them to supplement your research.


When in doubt ask your instructor...

Assignment Guidelines

What resources are needed to complete your assignment?

  • Articles from scholarly, peer-reviewed journals?
  • Books and/or eBooks?
  • Information from government agencies or professional associations?
  • Do the sources need to be primary sources or can you use secondary sources?

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