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CLAS 067 : Helen Of Troy: Evaluating Library Resources

Primary Source (aka Original Source)

What are primary sources?  They are often referred to as "first hand" accounts or "original" records.  Primary sources are the evidence historians use to build interpretations of the past. Primary sources also refer to original works of art, including plays and fiction.  Most primary sources are created at the time an historical event occurred, while others, such as autobiographies, are produced long after the events they describe. Among the many types of materials that may be primary sources are: letters, diaries, speeches, newspaper articles, autobiographies, oral histories, government and organizational records, statistical data, maps, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings, advertisements, and artifacts.

Secondary Source (aka Secondary Analysis)

A secondary source gives information about or analysis of a primary source.  In academia, these secondary sources are usually published in books, edited volumes, or scholarly journals.  One of the main characteristics of scholarly journals is the process of peer review. Research articles under consideration for publication in a scholarly journal are sent to experts in the subject field (peers) for evaluation and comment (review).

This Peer Review in 3 Minutes video tutorial created by North Carolina State University covers: how peer-reviewed articles are different from other types of publications; how peer-reviewed articles are tied to teaching and learning activities on college campuses; and where to go for help in finding peer-reviewed articles.

Open Access publishing is a movement that makes scholarly content available free of charge. The UNC Libraries support open access, open archives, and open repositories as methods to encourage the widest possible access to scholarly content.

Evaluating Resources

  • Choose one of the resources linked in this LibGuide
  • Come up with search terms to use while exploring this resource, ideally relevant to your planned research or interests.
  • What is the name of the database you are searching?  What kind of material does it contain?  Do you have a sense of what time period or location these materials cover? ("No" is an okay answer here, sometimes it is hard to nail down.)
  • Demonstrate the search.  Did you need to refine keywords?  Did you adjust any facets/toggles to refine your search results? Show us how to click through and explore an item.  Can you download the item or find a stable link to it? Can you search within the item?  Does it lead to other items you may find useful?
  • Evaluate one particular item you found during your search.  What makes this item worth paying attention to?  Who wrote or created it? Is it credible?  (Your answer may include a discussion of how the source is influenced by the author’s biases.) How is it relevant to your research topic?