Guidelines for the Selection of Sources


Selecting the appropriate sources for your research topic will be critical to your project’s success.

1. You will have to go through a lot of material before you find the relevant sources for your topic.   Many times we have had the experience of thinking that an article or book is going to be about something based on it’s title and we were wrong.  Be patient.  Invest the time in the library.  Read bibliographies and footnotes from relevant work and follow those leads.

2.  Secondary sources are scholarly analysis of your topic.  Pick secondary sources that are of high quality.  This probably means that they are cited by others and have not been discredited.  Again, you might have to go through a lot of sources before you find the “right” ones for your project.

3. For the purposes of this project, we are asking you to have at least two sources per group member.  A book chapter from an academic book, or a journal article will “count” as a secondary source.

4. Engage in critical reading of your secondary source.  Ask: Who is the author?  What is their intention with this book or article?  Who is the author talking to?  What argument are they making?  How do they make this argument? Why is this important to examining this research question?  How does this work relate to other sources I am engaged with?

5. Primary sources get you as close to your topic as you can possibly get (e.g. images, newspaper articles, diaries, oral histories, government documents, maps, census data, movies, television transcripts, letters, comics, etc.).  Ideally we would like you to include primary sources in your project as they are really fun to work with and generally useful for doing original analysis, but we understand that time constraints might prevent that.  What “counts” as a source  with primary sources is a little trickier to designate, so please discuss with us the primary sources you will be using.

6. If you have any questions about whether something constitutes a source, please let us know.

7. some resources to check out:
UCB library
California Archive Online

Comments are Closed on this Post.