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Yonkers High School IB: Evaluating Sources

Use this to start your Extended Essay Work

Evaluating Sources

Learn About Scholarly Articles

Scholarly articles are usually structured with specific components such as a literature review, methods section, and references. To learn more and see examples of how this looks, click the link below.

Types of Articles

When researching, you will encounter many different types of articles. Here are a few examples to be aware of.

  • Empirical Study: Article that is structured around original research findings. The purpose is to relay what the researcher has found.
  • Literature Review: Article that employs and/or analyzes previously published scholarship. Original concepts should be explored, but authors pull from other's research.
  • Professional Trade Journal: Publication intended for professionals in a specific field, trade, or industry. Not considered scholarly.

Librarian Tip: Peer Review is a process by which articles are reviewed by other scholars or experts in the field before being accepted for publication. Look out for "Peer Reviewed" filters in databases and the catalog to narrow your results to these types of articles.

What is Peer Review?

Preconceived Notions

It is important to consistently check your own biases and your own preferences for reading one source over another. 

The Pew Research Center has done research on news audiences and has rated news sources by the ideological leanings of their followers. A chart of this information can be viewed at: Ideological Placement of Each Source’s Audience.

 

Example:

You've decided to write about how a vegan lifestyle is healthier than other diets. You are looking at news sources and find an article in Vegetarian Monthly that says that vegans have lower cholesterol than non-vegans. However, you don't include a source from Women's Running that indicates vegans usually have issues with B12 deficiency. You have chosen to only utilize sources that support your initial hypothesis. This is confirmation bias.

Primary and Secondary Sources

What is a Primary Source?

  • A direct source from a particular event; a first-hand account from someone who was involved in an event; a work that was created during the time period studied.

  • A diary, newspapers from the time an event took place, a personal letter or correspondence.

CHINESE CRUSH FOE IN CHIHKIANG ZONE. (1945, May 11). New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/107140388?accountid=13701

What is a Secondary Source?

  • Uses primary sources to make an argument or provide an analysis; not from the direct time of the event that it is describing.

  • Criticisms, commentaries, a document that reviews or interprets a previous event or findings.

Can a Source be Primary and  Secondary?

Simply put, yes. For example a documentary about World War II could be used as both a primary or secondary source. It could be used as a primary source if it has first-hand accounts or if you are studying the art of documentary. It could also be used as a secondary source because it uses primary source material to analyze an event. 

 

Not sure if what you are looking at is primary or secondary? 

Evaluating Websites of Organizations

Use these tips to evaluate the websites of organizations. Keep in mind that these are only a starting point and not guaranteed to be failsafe in every situation.