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Module 1: Grammar Module 2: Sources Module 3: Structure
Home » Module 2 Unit 2: Evaluating sources » Potentially questionable sources - page 4/4
Unit 1:  About sourcesUnit 2: Evaluating sourcesUnit 3: Quoting & paraphrasingUnit 4: Reporting evidenceUnit 5: Referencing

Appropriate use of non-print sources

think and try

The following three examples illustrate contexts and writing tasks in which both print and non-print source materials may be used.

Think about the types of source material you would use for each writing task and how you would use them. Then, check your understanding.

Example 1: Media Studies

Your task: To evaluate footage from a television news broadcast in terms of the way it creates and delivers particular political messages to the viewers.


In this case, the video recording of the television news forms the actual subject of (and the primary source for) your assessment task. You may need to refer to different video and radio recordings of the same item of news to illustrate and back up the arguments you wish to make about how the information is being presented to viewers. Here, the video/TV and radio recordings are a crucial part of your argument and are in no way questionable. You would be expected to include these sources in your essay/assignment. You would also, however, be expected to situate your arguments in the context of a theory or theories about the ways in which the media manipulates information and imagery to impact on viewers in particular ways. To do this, you would be expected to consult and acknowledge a range of more traditional, probably print-based, academic sources.

Example 2: History

Your task: To critique a contemporary interpretation of the relationship between the English Tudor monarchs and the court of Spain.


As well as many traditional sources of academic evidence on this subject, there are numerous films, television and radio documentaries, and television enactments, all of which can contribute to understanding of this period of English history. Given the amount of researched expert literature on this subject, your reader would expect the majority of your argumentation to be based on your reading of this literature. However, since television, radio and film programs are themselves based on these research sources, the inclusion of some evidence from these non-print sources would not be considered questionable if it is based on material which is:
  • widely known and respected;
  • readily available and able to be authenticated, for example, by consulting videos or films held by academic or local libraries, or Internet transcripts of recent radio programs.

Example 3: Early Childhood Education

Your task: To evaluate the proposition that sophisticated language development most often happens when young children are engaged in intimate quiet time with carers, rather than in periods of intense activity.


Evidence for, or against, this proposition would come from a range of sources. To present adequate evidence to support your arguments, you may be expected to include some of the following:
  • child language samples recorded in childcare centres, homes or other environments (taped or videoed)
  • comments from professional or semi-professional carers (anecdotal or recorded)
  • interviews with parents (anecdotal or recorded)
  • material from widely read but non-academic magazines, e.g. Sydney's Child
  • personal comments based on observations
You would also, however, be expected to show evidence of wide reading, so that your arguments are located within the academic context of the debate. This reading would reflect your consultation of more traditional academic sources such as journals, books and edited collections of essays.