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Evaluating Sources

A guide to basic evaluation skills for sources.

Primary and Secondary Sources

primary source is original information. It could be:

  • a letter
  • a diary entry
  • a piece of legislation
  • a literary text like a poem or a novel
  • an eyewitness account
  • data from a scientific study

secondary source is an interpretation, analysis, commentary, riff, or basically anything about a primary source. Examples of secondary sources include:

  • an analysis of a political speech
  • a critique of an original scientific study
  • a meta-analysis of several different scientific studies
  • an examination of the social attitudes expressed in a collection of tweets

Scholarly Sources

Articles that come from scholarly journals are authoritative and are some of the most helpful sources that can help you support the argument that you are making. Scholarly books are also authoritative sources.

The library is the best place to find scholarly journals and books.

Peer Reviewed Articles

For most disciplines, peer-reviewed articles are the gold standard and help you to avoid most incompetence and misinformation. Watch this video to find out about the process of peer review.