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One Book 2017-2018: March ( book 3): March - further research: Source Evaluation

Primary & Secondary Sources

Primary Source Information
income_graphcomes directly from real life data or from the time of an event.

Examples include: statistics, laboratory experiments and reports on the results of those experiments, news reporting that occurs when an event happens, diaries/journals, transcripts of speeches.

Use primary source information to show why your organization is effective in changing the problem-- the organization is very effective or is locally active.


Secondary Source Information
Reference Bookcomes from a collection of primary-source data that is drawn together to provide a larger picture view of an event or to provide a recommendation or review.

Examples include: most textbooks, summaries of past research (called "literature reviews"), overviews and encyclopedia summaries, policy or product recommendations.

Use secondary source information to show the existence or scope of the problem you want to change. 

Evaluate your sources


Not all resources are created equal! There are a number of criteria to consider when determining whether or not a source is reliable (able to be trusted) and appropriate for your academic work.

  • Who is the author?
  • What makes the author an expert in the field he or she is writing about? What are his or her qualifications? Does he or she have education or work experience in the field? Has he or she published anything else about the subject? (HINT: Google the name of the author to find this information).
  • If there isn't an author listed, is the information authored by a government, corporate, or non-profit agency?  Is the agency or organization recognized in the field in which you are studying, and is it suitable to address your topic?
Point of View or Bias
  • Does the source promote one point of view or one agenda?
  • Is the information provided as fact or opinion?
  • If the information is found online, does the Web site have advertisements? If so, are the ads part of or separate from the rest of the site?
  • Does your topic require current information?
  • Does the source include a date of publication or a "last updated" date?
References to Other Sources
  • Does the source include a bibliography or links to other web sites?
  • What types of sources are cited (primary/secondary, popular/scholarly, current/historical, etc.)
Relevance to Topic and Assignment
  • Is the information you found related to and useful for your topic and assignment?
  • Is the source the appropriate type for your needs?  For example, do you need a book or a scholarly journal article? Do you need primary or secondary sources of information?
  • Is the information too broad or too specific?

Image source:  "Evaluation" by NY is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0