Skip to Main Content

ENG 101: Foundations of Writing & Rhetoric

The official library guide fo Foundations of Writing & Rhetoric (formerly English Composition) classes at Minnesota State Mankato

Analyze Your Sources

 Consider the "5Ws & How" used in journalism to anaylze the rhetorical context of your sources. Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

Analyze the Rhetor

Who wrote or created the source? Look at the author(s) of the source and do a little research to learn more about their qualifications.

  • Why are they credible on this topic?
  • What is their expertise?
  • Where do they work? What do they do?
  • What else have they written or created?

Analyze the Audience

Who is the audience of the text? Consider who the intended audience is, as well as who are unintended audience or audiences. For example, scholarly articles are often written for professors and professionals in a given field (the intended audience), but students often read these articles for research projects, too (the unintended audience).

  • How did you determine the indented audience?
  • What characteristics make the audience appropriate for the source?  
  • Who else might read the source? What limitations might this unintended audience face when interacting with this source?

Analyze the Argument

What message is the rhetor sending to their audience? What is the main point of the text? How do you know?

  • What is the takeaway for the audience? What are they supposed to do or change as a result of consuming the information in the source?
  • What new ideas are presented? How can you tell these are new ideas?
  • How does the rhetor design their argument to convince their audience that the information presented in the source is important or true? Consider what rhetorical appeals are used: ethos (authority or credentials), logos (reasoning or logic), pathos (emotions), and kairos (timing).

Analyze the Genre & Mode

What category does the source belong to? Is it a scholarly article, a popular website article, a government report, a social media post? What format is the source in? Is it linguistic, visual, aural, gestural, spatial, or a combination of these (multimodal)?

  • In what ways does the source follow or challenge the genre or format's conventions or normal practices?
  • Why is or isn't this an effective way to make the source's argument, given the intended audience?
  • Why do you think the rhetor chose this genre and format?

Analyze the Context

What situations and circumstances influenced the source's publication.

  • When was the source published? What was happening in the world when it was published?
  • Who published the source--which journal, publisher, or platform hosts the source? (e.g. is a video hosted on a personal YouTube channel or on an organization's website?) What is the focus of this platform or publisher? Who is their intended audience?
  • What other topics were published by the author, journal, or publisher around the same time?
  • What conversations does the source respond to? How does it build on works by other people? What authors/creators does it cite? Who are the people cited and why do they matter?

Analyze the Purpose

Why did the rhetor make the specific argument for the specific audience?

  • Why did the rhetor want to make this argument for this audience at this time?
  • Why did the audience want or need to hear this argument?
  • What is the audience supposed to do as a result of hearing this argument?

Additional Resources to Analyze Sources

Need more help analyzing a source? See the library's other source evaluation tools and guides. 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License