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FYI102: The Other in Harry Potter (S. McDowell)

Why Popular Sources?

Popular sources range from journalism published in newspapers, magazines, or online news sites (which is often high-quality and thoroughly researched/vetted, but is not peer-reviewed) to personal websites, blogs, and social media posts. Any/all of these types of popular sources will be relevant for this assignment, but think carefully about your decision-making process as you figure out which popular sources to include.

In this assignment, you'll want to use popular sources to:

  • provide additional background information about the social issue or concern you're exploring
  • find examples of people's lived experience with Rowling's Harry Potter texts in the context of your social issue

Popular Sources


Websites, Blogs, Social Media posts, etc.

Harry Potter has united readers in many online communities for years. Fans of the texts come together to explore not only the characters, but also the ideas and themes explored within the novels; you will likely find websites that discuss the very same social issue you're wrestling with in your paper.

When you're using Google to find other internet sources, it becomes mandatory that you think critically about what you're seeing and why. Use the CRAAP test (described below) or whatever metric works for you, but be consistent and be strict! Don't let a source "slide by" just because you like it - be ready to explain why you've chosen every source and be sure that you can explain the authority of its author(s) and any bias that it may have. 

The "CRAAP test" gives you a handy acronym to remember important aspects of a source as you're considering how you might use it in your paper:

C: Currency - When was the source written? Is timeliness relevant to its usefulness?
R: Relevance - How does the source align with the arguments you're constructing in your paper?
A: Accuracy - Can you trust the information in the source? How do you know?
A: Authority - Who wrote it? What gives them the authority to write about this topic? 
P: Purpose - For whom was the source written? Does it seem to have an agenda or bias? If so, how will you address it?

Remember that none of these criteria is black and white! There are shades of grey in all of them.

Consider "authority." We know from our earlier conversations that scholars have authority by virtue of their education level, and that their writings undergo the peer-review process (which grants even more scholarly authority upon a text). But, for example, a person of color (regardless of education level) holds a different kind of authority on the topic of racism than a white sociologist who studies racism academically. Both can be authorities on the subject: the person of color's lived experience grants authority, as does the scholarship of the white sociologist. Each is valid and important, but they are different. Keep these things in mind as you're engaging with your sources, and your research (and therefore, your writing!) will be more nuanced and meaningful.