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COMM111 Hooten

This Course Guide will help you define expertise within the context of your topics, and find expert sources to cite in your persuasive and informative speeches.

What does expertise look like?

Your instructor expects you to learn from "expert sources" for both of your speeches. Before you look for the actual sources, consider the experts authoring them and where that information might live.


Think about what expertise looks like in regards to your chosen topic. How does one get it? What are the typical characteristics of experts? Expertise might come from lived experience, formal education, working in the discipline, or networking and notoriety.

It is up to you to define what what expertise looks like as it relates to your speech topics. Then, apply that expertise to sources. Here are a couple examples:

  • Informative Speech
    Topic: GenZ word cloud. Image by www.epictop10.comGenZ communication style preferences.
    GenZ = people in their teens and early 20s. Who do you think are experts on this topic? I would argue that there are lots of different types of experts and expertise with this topic.
    • Prominent social media influencers. Information from these experts are found in videos, podcasts, and online articles.
    • Teachers and professionals who work with GenZ. Information from these experts are found in online articles and podcasts created by teachers for teachers, and education research journals.
    • Linguists or sociologists, who study language and culture. Information from these experts are found in research journals and professional websites.
  • Persuasive Speech
    Topic: Taking naps is good for teenagers. Taking a nap in a adorable pose (8523596750)
    First off, I need to define what I mean by "good." Depending on what "good" means to me, that changes who I want to learn from.
    • "Good" = being more alert during the day. I want to learn from sleep specialists who understand the connection between sleep and wakefulness in adolescents. Book chapters and articles published in neurology and sleep research journals, and well-known organizations' websites, are expert sources for this topic. 
    • "Good" = being a safer driver. I want to learn from groups that track and analyze driving data related to sleep and alertness. Government websites and sleep journals are expert sources for this topic.
    • "Good" = having clearer skin. I want to learn from medical professionals who understand the connection between sleep and adolescent hormones. Book chapters and articles published in dermatological and sleep research journals are expert sources for this topic.

Catch the differences? Expertise can vary. Where and how experts share information varies, too. An expansive definition of expertise means it is important for you to consider who is authoring your sources. This also mean you have a greater expanse of expert information sources from which to choose.

Expert sources can be both "scholarly" and "popular"

Scholarly and Popular Sources from Carnegie Vincent on Youtube.

Check your understanding:

  • What part of a scholarly article summarizes the main points?
  • Are newspapers scholarly or popular? Why?
  • What is it called when an article is reviewed by experts?
  • What clues in scholarly articles indicate that the author is an expert?
  • What do the footnotes and bibliography allow readers to do?
  • What are some ways you can visually identify a popular source?

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