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AMS 311S: Technology, Science, and Pop Culture / Schneider

Course guide for students in the AMS 311S: Technology, Science, and Pop Culture course

Evaluating Sources

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary Secondary
Created at the time of the event or subject you have chosen to study, or by people who were observers of, or participants in that event or topic Describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources. Analyzes primary sources
Examples: Newspapers, magazines, speeches, pamphlets, zines, photographs, letters, diaries, or things like memoirs, oral interviews, or accounts that were recorded later.  Examples: Newspapers, biographies, timeline, book or article discussing a topic or individual

How to Analyze Primary Sources

While primary sources are often desirable for the non-interpreted information they provide, it is important to analyze them for your research. Ask yourself these questions:
  • Who is the creator and what was their relationship to the event or issue?
  • Why did the creator produce this source?
  • Was the source for personal use?  For a large audience?
  • Was the source intended to be public (newspaper) or private (correspondence)?
  • Everyone has biases. What biases or interests might have influenced how the source was created?
  • Can the source be substantiated by other primary sources? Can you confirm what the creator is saying?

Class Activity

Go to this Slido link for our in-class source evaluation activity. 

Or join at and enter code 3908 887

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Secondary sources can be: 

  • Scholarly sources are written by researchers or experts in a particular field. They use specialized vocabulary, have extensive citations, and are often peer-reviewed


  • Popular sources offer commentary on popular topics and current events. Examples include magazine articles, blogs or websites.  

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Generic License.