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Finding Primary Sources: Evaluating Primary & Secondary Sources

Introduction to primary sources and where to go to find them.

Evaluating Primary Sources

Primary sources are the foundations of histories. Evaluation of the sources is essential to scholarly research.

  • Who was the author and who was the audience of the primary source?
  • What was the purpose of the document or motive for writing it?
  • Does the writer have an obvious bias?
  • When was this document written, and what was the effect of the document on history?
  • What affect did the document have on the your view of this topic or event?
  • Compare the primary source information with secondary source information.

Information accessed using the internet needs to be critically evaluated. Be sure to check out our immensely helpful Evaluation page!

Evaluating Secondary Sources

 Evaluation of sources is essential to scholarly research. Consider the following when looking for reliable secondary sources:

  • Who is the author? Are they a scholar in the field?
  • Was the book/ journal published by a scholarly publisher?
  • What is the purpose of the text or motive for writing it?
  • Does the writer have an obvious bias?
  • Does the book/ article have an extensive bibliography?
  • What are the primary sources referred to by the author?
  • What secondary sources are used by the author?
  • Does the text have citations enabling you to check the author's sources.

 Information accessed using the internet needs to be critically evaluated. Be sure to check out our immensely helpful Evaluation page!