To do this, you must analyze the text according to three criteria: the author, the publisher, and the date of publication.
Remember back at the beginning of this handout I wrote that critically analyzing sources is all about asking questions? The next time you pick up a book in the library, look at the author’s name. Do you know if he is cited in other books on the subject? Is she affiliated with a university (which may or may not add to her authority)?
You can be relatively sure that if a university press published the book, it has been held to a high academic standard. You may have to look at other aspects of the book (see below for tips on identifying tone and audience) or look at other books produced by the same publisher to judge the credibility of the text.
Remember, you are not looking for ways to exclude works.
While you may associate research papers with history or political science classes, the study of most disciplines involves the collection and interpretation of data with the intent of making and supporting an argument.
To do this, you must use some printed texts, whether they are primary documents or secondary sources that analyze primary sources.There are two parts of a source that you need to analyze: the text itself and the argument within the text.You evaluate a text to determine the objectivity of the author and the credibility of the work.Do not assume that your sole motive or goal is to eliminate sources.While this may be a consequence of your analysis, your goal should be to understand the context of the work so you can assess how it can inform your argument.Does the author acknowledge an organizational affiliation?The acknowledgements and preface are good places to get the answers to most of these questions.If you have never written a research paper at the college level, the process may appear daunting.The first step, of course, is to develop a topic that investigates a problem important to your discipline.Primary sources come in various shapes and sizes, and often you have to do a little bit of research about the source to make sure you have correctly identified it. Here are some examples and problem areas: Diaries and letters written by people who were participants in the actions they describe are easy to classify as primary sources, but what about memoirs or autobiographies?In a nutshell, a primary source was produced at the same time that the events described in the source took place. These are usually written well after the events took place and often will tell you more about the period in which they were written than about the period they describe. The author of an article presents an interpretation, but if the article reports current events, it is primary.