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Doing Research

Evaluating Information

When you evaluate information sources, first you need to check the appropriateness of your sources in terms of your writing situation. You need to figure out which information souces would provide you with sufficent evidence to support your claims. A good way to do so, is by deciding if you need primary or secondary sources.

  • Primary source: This type of information source includes documents or records containing firsthand information or original data on a topic. Primary sources could be considered the following: original manuscripts, periodical articles reporting original research or thoughts, diaries, memoirs, letters, journals, photographs, drawings, posters, film footage, sheet music, songs, interviews, government documents, public records, eyewitness accounts, newspaper clippings.
  • Secondary source: This type of information source includes any published or unpublished work that is one step removed from the original source, usually describing, summarizing, analyzing, evaluating, derived from, or based on primary source materials.Secondary sources could be considered the following: a review, a critical analysis, a biographical or historical study. This term also refers to material other than primary sources used in the preparation of a written work.

Watch this video to learn more about this distinction and why it is useful!

In this part of the guide you will find:

  • how to test your source.
  • how to evaluate the content you read.
  • how to evaluate websites.

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