Saturday, December 2, 2006

Evaluating Print Sources

Evaluating Print Sources


Enough resources are needed to:

Support your argument

Include a variety of viewpoints and materials


Variety is necessary. Include many different resources.

Primary Sources

Contemporary accounts of an event and original documents

Examples: letters, diaries, audio-recordings of speeches, newspaper articles
Secondary Resources

Retrospective sources based on primary resources; include scientific or scholarly analysis
Examples: books, articles, editorials, reviews, scientific studies

Date of Publication

When was the source published? Remember the Information Timetable. Depending on the topic of research different materials from different time periods will be used.

Current Events ResearchUse resources that are recent and reflect current attitudes.

Historical ResearchUse a variety of resources from different time periods including both Primary and Secondary resources.

Quality and Reliability

When choosing your resources, the most difficult task is determining their quality and reliability.
This is particularly problematic when a source is found through the Internet. Some factors to think about when assessing the quality and reliability of a publication are:

What is the tone?

Who is the intended audience?

What is the purpose of the publication?

What assumptions does the author make?

What are the bases of the author's conclusions?

Does the author agree or disagree with other authors of the subject?

Does the content agree with what you know or have learned about the issue?

To help determine this, it might also help to look over the source's documentation and read some reviews of the source.

Additional Resources

Does the source provide other leads?

Documentation (i.e., footnotes and bibliography)

Provides additional resources

Substantiates the author's research

Cramer, Steven. "Part 6: Evaluating Sources." Guide to Library Research. 22 January 2001. Duke Unisversity. 15 Nov 2006 .