3.2 Filtering and organising

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?