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ENGL 1102H Cantrell : Credibility

Support for Literary and Cultural Analysis Prospectus and Annotated Bibliography


Make sure you are using credible sources for your research. Consider authority, scholarliness, date, and relevance.


Authority relates to the kind of expertise the author has.

Scholars have advanced degrees or do extensive, original research on a topic. By "original research" we mean that the author uses primary sources or analyzes data to come to conclusions about the topic. 

Journalists/ Writers may interview or read the work of scholars or do other investigative work. They may know a lot about the subject area, but they are not scholars.

First-hand experience is valuable in telling one person's story, but realize it is just one person's perspective. A scholar or journalist may interview people with first-hand experience as part of gathering information on a subject.

Look for: 

  • Information about the author near the beginning or end of a book or article.
  • You may need to research the author on the Internet.

Exercise: Scholarly or Not?

Are these resources scholarly?

Amy Tan (People magazine)

Gender and authorial limitation in Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily." (Mississippi Quarterly)

Faulkner 101 (Oprah's Bookclub)

Faulkner's Southern Belle (Acta Neophilologica)

William Faulkner (Gale Contextual Encyclopedia of American Literature, Vol. 2.)

Shirley Jackson's American Gothic (book)

Note: Darryl Hattenhauer is an associate professor of American studies and English at Arizona State University. 



Is the resource on topic?

Look for keywords in...

  • the title or description/ abstract.
  • Subject terms assigned to the item
  • In articles, the first few paragraphs and section headings.
  • In a book, look at the chapter titles and in the index.



Always consider whether the publication date is important.

For Literary criticism, the date is usually less important unless information about the author or perspectives on the author's work have changed over time.

For many topics, the date of publication and the date of the resources the author used affect the accuracy of the information.