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Research Starter - ENGL 110 (Lee Online)

Evaluation Criteria

To verify the reliability of your sources, ask yourself the following questions:

How?

How does this apply to your research?

Relevance

Does the work address your specific research question?

Scope

Does the work provide sufficient content?

Who?

Who is the author?

Why?

Why does this person have the authority to speak about this topic?

What?

What is the intention of this source?  Is the author trying to persuade you or is the author presenting factual research?

When?

When was this piece written?  Does the age of the source impact its relevancy to your topic?

 

Primary vs. Secondary Resources

Sources are divided into two main groups; primary and secondary.  

Primary sources provide a firsthand account or insider's look at a specific person, a specific time period, or a specific event.  If a primary source could speak to us it would say, “I was there; this is my experience or my experiment.”  Examples of primary sources include diaries, personal journals, autobiographies, memoirs, personal correspondence, interviews, speeches, newspaper articles or news footage from a specific time in history, official records, original photographs, creative works such as plays, poetry, music, or art, and also original research data.  Primary sources can be documents, photographs, film or video footage, and objects/artifacts.

A secondary source is an interpretation or analysis of one or more primary sources.  If a secondary source could speak to us it would say, “I wasn’t there but I read about it and these are my thoughts on the matter.”  Examples of secondary resources include such publications as biographies, commentaries, criticisms, textbooks, articles, and critical essays.  

Example:   

      

The first book on the left, I am Not Spock, was written by Leonard Nimoy and is his personal account of his experiences of portraying the character of Spock in the television series Star Trek.  The next book, Star Trek: Movie Memories, was written by William Shatner who portrayed the character of Captain James T. Kirk and discusses his experiences during the creation of the Star Trek films.  Each of these sources says to us, "I was there; this is my experience."  These are primary sources.

The last book, Star Trek as Myth, is a collection of essays about Star Trek.  This book is comprised of the different authors' interpretations and analysis of the mythology of the television series and films.  This book says to us, "I wasn’t there, but I watched Star Trek and these are my thoughts on the matter."  This book is a secondary resource.