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ENGL 101 - Montgomery Bus Boycott - Blaker

This guide will support Prof. Rhona Baker's ENGL 101 course and their research assignment on the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Defining Credible, Scholarly Sources

For this assignment, you have been told to find and use five credible sources about the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Credible sources are sources that are reliable and information that most people can assume to be true or trustworthy. Usually, credible sources:

  • are relevant or clearly connected to the topic or thesis
  • are created or written with authority (people connected with the topic, discipline, etc. and who have knowledge and schooling in that area)
  • have a clear purpose or intent (why are they writing or creating the source? To inform, persuade, or entertain?)
  • have little obvious bias (not intentionally presenting unfair or inaccurate information)
  • use factual evidence or citations to support their thesis or topic

You can also consider the date (must be the latest or most updated available) of the source in terms of credibility.

Academic or scholarly sources are written by instructors, other researchers, professors, and experts in that discipline. They usually have more complicated language and provide references or other sources they use to support their topic in the form of citations. Academic sources can most easily be found in library databases than on the internet.

Ask Yourself These Questions for Credibility


  • Who is the author of the article or book?
  • What are the credentials or qualifications of the author of the book or article?
  • Is the author associated with a university at the time the material was printed?  If it is an organization, are they well known as a scholarly authority on the topic?
  • Is the author educated in the subject they are writing about? For example, Dr. Stefan Bradley wrote and article called For the Greater Glory of Whom?: A Perspective on OccupySLU about student activists. He is a professor of African-American History at Loyola Marymount University when the article was published.
  • Is there contact information for the author(s)?
  • Are you able to tell how the author gets their research funding?

Purpose & Bias

  • Who is the audience?  What can the audience tell you about the bias or point-of-view?
  • Who is the publisher of the book or article?  Does the publisher have a bias or agenda that they are trying to convey?
  • Does the source use emotional language to make you feel something as you read? (For example: Children are dying because we don't have healthcare!)
  • Are they trying to sell you something?  
  • Are there advertisements in the publication?  If so, are they for products discussed in the article?

Accuracy & Evidence

  • Does the conclusions the article or book match with the conclusions other research you have been reading?
  • Does the author effectively use citations and other sources to support their conclusions or findings?
  • Where does the information come from?
  • Has the information been peer reviewed or refereed?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?


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