Once you have the resources located, you need to do a quick evaluation before spending large amount of time on any particular one. Use this checklist to evaluate your sources:
o Why was the resource written? Was the author's purpose to inform, persuade, or to refute a particular idea or point of view?
o Is the resource intended for the general public, scholars, professionals, etc.
o What are the author's qualifications? Consider author's educational background, past writings and experience. Is the author associated with an organization or institution? Who is the publisher? Are they well known? Does any group control the publishing company?
o Is the information covered fact, opinion, or propaganda? Facts can be usually verified. Opinions evolve from the interpretation of facts. Are the author's conclusions or facts supported with references?
o When was the information published? Is the date of publication appropriate for your topic?
o Is it relevant to your topic? Is the topic covered in depth, partially or is it an broad overview? Does the resource add new information, update other sources or substantiate other resources that you have consulted?
o Does the author present multiple viewpoints or is it biased? How do critical reviews rate the work?
When you are using journal articles, you need to consider whether the source is suitable for your research.
A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event. Some types of primary sources include:
A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them. Some types of seconday sources include:
Examples of secondary sources include:
Princeton University Library. "What Is a Primary Source." Getting Started with Your Research. Princeton University. Web. 11 Jan. 2011. <http://www.princeton.edu/~refdesk/primary2.html>.