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3.2 Filtering and organising

3.2.1 Evaluating sources
3.2.2 CRAP sources
3.2.3 From note taking to note making
3.2.4 Building a bibliography

Site: Philpot Education
Course: Extended Essay Support Site
Book: 3.2 Filtering and organising
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Sunday, 27 September 2020, 4:36 PM

3.2.1 Evaluating sources

As you gather primary and secondary sources, you will have to examine their value to your essay critically. There are a few questions that you can ask yourself to assess or evaluate the quality of the sources that you have gathered. Please note that the word 'text' can refer to any source, such as a piece of film or an extract from an interview. 

1. Why am I reading this text?

      • What do I hope to gain by reading this text? 

2. What type of text is this? 

      • Which audience does this text target? 
      • What type of text is this: prose, non-fiction, fiction, instruction, expository?
      • Where is the text published?

3. What are the aims of the author?

      • What is the author's purpose?
      • Is it to inform, persuade or entertain? 
      • How as the author approached the topic? 

4. What is being claimed? 

      • What is the author's stance on a topic? 
      • What values are expressed?
      • How clear are the author's claims?
      • How consistent are the author's claims with other people's claims? 

5. What concepts are key to understanding this text?

      • How do the author's ideas fit into a conceptual framework for this topic? 
      • How are various phenomena explained? 

6. What can I take away from this text? 

      • What questions, illustrations or diagrams can be used to support my own arguments or ideas? 

7. What is the value of this text?

      • How important is this text to me and to others? 
      • How does this contribute to its field or subject area? 
      • How does it compare to other texts I've read? 

3.2.2 CRAP sources

The quality of your essay depends partly on the quality of your sources. How do you know which sources you should use and and which ones you should leave out? You may want to try the CRAP model for establishing the quality of your sources: 

Currency - How up to date is your source? 
Reliability - Can the source be trusted? 
Academic authority - Is there a sense of expertise? 
Purpose and bias - What is the author's aim?

Examiners will look at your bibliography carefully. Here is a slide show to illustrate four applications of the CRAP method for evaluating sources: 

Slide show - Applying CRAP detection

Figure 3.2.2a - Your source on trial
How would your source hold up in court? 


Download this worksheet, titled: 'Would you use this?' Rank the value of each source according to the CRAP method of evaluating sources: currency, reliability, authority and purpose. For each criterion, use a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 indicates that the source is most valuable and 1 indicates that it is least valuable. 

3.2.3 From note taking to note making

Good essays are built on good notes. When researching your essay, you will want to both 'take' and 'make' notes. What is the difference between 'taking' notes and 'making' notes? And how does one make the leap from note taking to note making? Here is a brief overview:

The purpose of taking notes The purpose of making notes
  • recording
  • reiterating
  • capturing
  • internalising
  • synthesising
  • processing
Examples of note taking Examples of note making
  • underlining or highlighting what you read
  • taking pictures  
  • jotting down data
  • writing down bibliographical information
  • listing questions
  • listing ideas 
  • paraphrasing what you read
  • creating a collage
  • plotting data on a graph
  • describing the value of each source
  • answering questions
  • mind mapping ideas

In order to move from note taking to note making, one must develop useful habits and routines. This is where the Researcher's Reflection Space (RSS) comes in handy. This is a place where you can paraphrase what you have read, create collages, plot data on graphs or make mind maps. The point is to make your notes meaningful for the essay that you intend to write (see Figure 3.2.3a) 

Note card system

One strategy of note taking and making that you may want to try is the a note card system, where you create a card to catalogue every idea or quotation you come across. By creating such cards with a 'tagging' system, you can begin to organise your ideas and sources. Click on the sample note card below.



For note taking and making, you may need these tools
  • highlighter pens
  • sticky notes (post-its)
  • note cards
  • notebook
  • note-making app
  • cork board (bulletin board)

Digital or paper?

Are you going to create notes by hand or digitally? Research by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer suggests that you are more likely to retain and internalise new information if you write by hand. See this article for more about this phenomenon and their article. 

3.2.4 Building a bibliography

Although the bibliography comes at the end of your essay, it is actually a starting point for writing your essay. Page 3.2.3 stresses the importance of making notes and documenting your development. As you gather, filter and organise notes, you will need to keep track of your sources. Many cases of plagiarism stem from sloppy organisational skills, where students lose track of their sources and paraphrase without citing their sources. Here is a quick guide to creating a 'working' bibliography. 

About online referencing generators

There are online tools that help you catalogue and record your bibliographical information, such as:

There are advantages to using such systems. First of all, these generators format your information according to the style guide that you select, so that the commas and semicolons appear in the correct places. Secondly, if you create an account, you can keep an on-going bibliography. And finally, the information is easy to export to MS Word. 

However, please be careful when filling in the fields of these generators. It is not enough to enter the URL of a website, click 'cite' and export. Many fields need to be filled in manually (see 'tips' box), or else the generator will not know what to generate.

Figure 3.2.4c - Screen shot from

Figure 3.2.4b - Index cards
You may find it useful to keep track of your sources with colour-coded index cards.


What to record (where applicable):
  • title
  • name of author(s)
  • publisher
  • date of publication
  • place of publication
  • date of access (web)
  • name and number of journal or edition