Communication Studies 001 (CIN!) Pippins: Gettting Started

Informative Speech

Facts vs. Opinions

Facts: are statements that can be proven, like 1+1=2; or the earth is flat. Facts can be based on personal observation as well. “I’m wearing a blue shirt today.” Facts stay the same and can be re-proven over and over.

Opinions: are based on personal feelings, judgements and beliefs. When you go out for dinner and a friend says the chicken is better than the steak, you may agree or disagree. You are getting information, but it is based on a person’s preference, not on unchanging and provable facts. Distinguishing facts from opinions is a basic part of research.

Pop Quiz

When your instructor tells you to use information that can be verified, he/she is asking for:

a. Facts

b. Opinions

Which of the following statements is based on opinion?

  1. People magazine survey shows that blue is the favorite color of 16-18 year olds
  2. Sports Illustrated article announces that Steph Curry is the best basketball player that ever lived
  3. A video shows someone painting with their foot
  4. A reporter shows the viewers the results of an earthquake in Chile


One difference between magazines and journals is that:

a. journals are not written for a professional audience

b. magazines are not written for a professional audience

c. journals have higher quality color illustrations

d. only magazines are peer-reviewed

Which of the following sources will usually have information that has been evaluated?

a. Popular magazines

b. scholarly journals

c. Chabot Library Databases

d. All of the above

e. b and c

Some Terms to Keep in Mind

Research is a systematic inquiry into a subject in order to learn about or verify facts.


A primary (firsthand) source of information is original or first-person information. It can come from someone’s journal, from original scientific research, or from writers talking about their work on YouTube. Research articles from databases and websites are primary sources, as are conversations you have with your friends.

A secondary (secondhand) source of information is material that has been taken from primary sources and then synthesized (combined), such as a book in which all the writer interviews are gathered together by the interviewer and published. A college textbook is another example of secondary information, since it synthesizes material taken from original sources.

A tertiary (third hand) source of information consists of secondary sources, such as books and articles, which have been gathered together in a database or reference book. An example of tertiary information are the Chabot College Library Catalog, which gathers books, articles, and videos and makes them available from a single search.

Scholarly v. Popular

Scholarly material is produced by scholars/experts whose credentials can be evaluated. Aimed at other scholars, it disseminates specialized and discipline-specific information, often reporting on original research and experimentation. Scholarly information is a great choice for college students, though it can be challenging to read because of its scholarly language. Scholarly sources are often called academic or peer-reviewed.

Example: Journals like the Journal of the American Medical Association


Popular material is created by journalists, staff writers or freelance writers, and, sometimes, by enthusiasts. This type of information is aimed at the general public. It usually provides a broad overview of topics a general readership will find entertaining. Use popular material sparingly, if at all; for academic work you'll need to be sure to supplement it with articles from scholarly and substantive sources.

Examples: Magazines like People Weekly or Maxim.


See the following criteria to help you identify popular magazines, trade magazines, and scholarly journals.