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Introduction to Research: Resource Evaluation

This guide is to help you with the research process.

What are sources?

source is any place that provides you with information, ideas, data, or facts.  Sources include the following:

  • journal articles
  • books
  • encyclopedias
  • newspapers & magazine articles
  • speeches
  • websites
  • government reports
  • interviews
  • surveys
  • people
  • radio programs and podcasts
  • documentaries
  • surveys
  • lectures
  • group discussions
  • witnesses
  • tweets
  • blogs


Evaluating sources

Some ways to think critically about your sources:

  • What? What do they claim?  What are they actually saying?​
  • Who? What person or organization wrote this? Whose voice is heard? Whose voice is not heard?​
  • When? How old is this information?​
  • How? What process did this information go through to become available?​
  • Why? What is their motivation for putting this information out there?​

What is peer review, and why should I care?

Peer review is the evaluation prior to publication of scientific, academic, or professional work by others working in the same field.

What are some other ways to evaluate sources?

Primary vs Secondary Sources

Primary sources are contemporary accounts of an event, written by someone who experienced or witnessed that event.  Some examples include eyewitness accounts, statistical data, legal documents, and video or audio footage.

Secondary sources are interpretations and evaluations of primary sources.  Secondary sources are not evidence, but rather they are commentary on and discussion about evidence.  Some examples include newspaper and magazine articles, reviews of books or movies, and journal articles that discuss another person's work.

Borough of Manhattan Community College has an excellent website about the differences between primary and secondary sources.