Secondary Sources

  • The next step in the research process is the evaluation of your research material. Every article, monograph, website, interview, and newspaper account needs to be critically evaluated. Try to answer the following questions for each item:

    1. Who is the author/creator?
    2. What are the author’s/creator’s professional credentials? (Consider their degrees, past writings, professional associations, and current position.)
    3. Is the information presented in the work accurate and verifiable? (For articles and monographs this usually means it has a bibliography and footnotes/endnotes.)
    4. What is the purpose of the work? (Is it meant to inform or to sway opinion?)
    5. Can you determine any bias on the author’s/creator’s part?
    6. Who is the intended audience? Is is scholarly or intended for a general audience?
    7. How current is the information in the work for your research? (Are the statistics up to date, or does the work make use of current technologies/trends?)
    8. For help in evaluating internet sources, visit:

    Historians and the Web: A Beginner’s Guide 

    Reference Shelf: Evaluating Online Resources 

    Thinking Critically about World Wide Web Resources