Dominique Battles, English
Kinds of Sources:
- Primary Source: a work that is itself the subject of study, a work written during the period under investigation (e.g. diaries, letters, speeches, eye-witness accounts).
- Secondary Source: any commentary written after and about the period in question (e.g. history textbooks, a recent study of the Crusades). Secondary sources incorporate information gleaned from a variety of primary sources.
We have five teams today, and each team has a source in front of you. Your task is to determine whether this is a scholarly source, and how/when you might use this source.
To evaluate any source, begin by asking the following questions:
- What do we know about the author?
- level of education
- Type of position they hold (journalist? Professor? Editor?)
- Other books or articles he/she has written (go to the back fly leaf or to the "about the author" page of the book).
- Work/life experience
- Biases he/she might have.
- Who is the audience for this publication? Popular audience? Academic audience? Children? Policy makers?
- Is this a primary or secondary source?
- What is the thesis of the work (either overt or implicit)?
- What type of evidence does the author use to support his/her study?
- How is that evidence documented?
- What is the date of the publication? How might that affect the way we would use it?
- What sources (both numbers and kind) does the author use to do this publication?
- Is the content of the piece primarily theoretical or practical?
- What is the tone of the work? Does it seem to offer an objective or subjective view?
- What is the scope of the work? Does it cover the entire topic or just one aspect of it?
- In what type of essay on the topic might you use such a publication?