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El Paso Community College
Library Research Guides

ESOL 0341 - Controversial Issues Library Research (Patricia Velez): Evaluating Resources

Type of Sources

Type of Sources

What are primary sources? 

Primary sources are the raw materials of historical research - they are the documents or artifacts closest to the topic of investigation. Often they are created during the time period which is being studied (correspondence, diaries, newspapers, government documents, art) but they can also be produced later by eyewitnesses or participants (memoirs, oral histories). You may find primary sources in their original format (usually in an archive) or reproduced in a variety of ways: books, microfilm, digital, etc.

What are secondary sources?

Secondary sources are interpretations of events written after an examination of primary sources and usually other secondary sources, such as interviews, books and magazine/newspaper/journal articles. The annotated bibliographies and papers you produce are considered secondary sources. 

What is social media?

Social media is a form(s) of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos). First known use of the term social media was 2004.[1]

[1] Social media. (2015). Retrieved March 03, 2016, from media  


Interviews as a Primary Source

An interview can be an effective primary source for your Borderlands annotate bibliography and research paper. If you selected an author that is still alive or an expert in the related field of your selected topic, or some other person who has knowledge of your topic can allow for you to gather unique information not available elsewhere.  As you incorporate your interview content into your paper paper, start with a transition such as according to, admitted by, declared by, pointed out or other attributions. You should also be specific to the type of interview you are working with, if the interviewee is the subject matter of your selected topic. This way, you will build a stronger ethos in your research paper.  Moreover, the body of your essay should clearly set up the quote or paraphrase you use from the interview responses, which should also be included in your annotated bibliography. 

  • Be sure that you quote accurately.
  • Keep a record of the date and place of the interview as well as the name and title of your source.
  • Ask permission to record the interview.

Tool to Evaluate Web Resources

 C.R.A.A.P. Worksheet

Developed by librarians at California State University-Chico, the CRAAP Worksheet is a handy checklist to use when evaluating a web resource (or ANY resource).  The test provides a list of questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not a source is reliable and credible enough to use in your academic research paper. CRAAP stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. Something to keep in mind: the CRAAP test is only one method for evaluating content.

Think carefully about the sources you are finding and using.

    * Currency - How recent is the information?

    * Reliability - What kind of information is included in the resource? Is it balanced? Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?

    * Authority - Who is the creator or author? Who is the publisher or sponsor?  What is the author's or publisher's interest (if any) in this information?

    * Accuracy  - Is the content readable? Is the content truthful? Is the content correct?

    * Purpose/Point of View - Is this fact or opinion?  Is the creator/author trying to sell you something; persuade you about something?

Check the acronym.  Did your website pass the CRAAP Test?!

*Criteria adapted from the CRAAP Test, Meriam Library, California State University, Chico


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