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English 105

Resources needed for Library Sessions.

Who should I listen to?

What is Expertise?

Expertise has two different, but related meanings. It either refers to expert knowledge or the know-how, skills, or expertise in something. I.E. it either refers to knowing-that or knowing-how.

With knowing-that, think about an expert opinion witness. They provide their professional testimony because they know particular facts.

When thinking about knowing-how, think about professions like a mechanic. They have the skills informed by knowledge to do a task that someone without that skill and knowledge would not be able to do.

The type of expertise you are talking about will change who will be considered an expert. 


What makes an expert?

There is a lot of debate over what makes an expert. This partly stems from the two-part definition mentioned above, but largely because expertise looks differently in different contexts. Various disciplines may value different characteristics of expertise.

There are also various ways for a person to gain expertise and/or prove their expertise.

  • Study a subject for a long time (How long is long enough? It depends).

  • Is credentialed (Does simply having a Ph.D. in a subject make you an expert? Maybe)

  • Experience an event firsthand

  • Can communicate their knowledge effectively (Have they published? Can people actually understand what they are trying to say? These are important in proving someone's expertise, though it doesn't necessarily make someone an expert).

Questions to Ask about Expertise

  1. What is an argument that you have heard concerning your craft?
    1. Who was making that argument? 
  2. From whom did you first learn about the craft?
  3. Who has first-hand experience in the craft?
    1. Does someone need to succeed at the craft to be an expert?
    2. What does success in your craft look like? 
  4. What academic department may study the craft? 
  5. Do folks need any credentials, certifications, or training to do the craft? 
    1. Does where they work influence their expertise? 

Information Cycle

Information is created through a process. The type of information that you encounter within days of an event will be different than the type of information included in sources written months or years after the event has occurred. 

Popular / Scholarly Divide

Unsure of what type of source you are looking at? Use the chart below to evaluate the form of the source. 






American Journal of Nursing, Studies in Twentieth Century Literature, American Historical Review

Times, Forbes, Psychology, Today, People, Glamour


  • Report on original research
  • Share knowledge with the scholarly community
  • Entertainment or persuasion
  • Sell products through advertisement

Cited Sources

  • Includes footnotes at the end of pages
  • An extensive bibliography at the end of the article
  • Rarely a full bibliography
  • May have some sources included as hyperlinks


  • Technical Language
  • Written for the field
  • Simpler language that the general public can understand

Article Format

  • Typically longer than a few pages
  • In sciences or social sciences, articles tend to have the following sections: Abstract, introduction, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion, and bibliography
  • Can include graphs, charts, and photographs that support the research
  • Brief articles
  • Often with no formal structure
  • Many photographs and graphics


  • Plain format, usually in black and white.
  • Little or no advertising
  • Glossy format with lots of color
  • Extensive advertising aimed at the general public.

Uses in Paper

  • Specific details
  • Primary evidence
  • Additional credibility
  • Background
  • Stories
  • Personal points of view


Learn more about the peer review process that separates a popular source from a scholarly source. 

Video brought to you by Rebecca Crown Library at Dominican University.