Whether using primary or secondary sources, in print or online, an essential step in the research process is evaluating your sources. Good scholarship requires careful reading and critical analysis of information.
The following questions were adapted from The Information-Literate Historian by Jenny L. Presnell (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007)
Are the author's sources clearly identified with complete citations to allow you to find the original source yourself?
How do the author's bias and perspective inform the arguments and evidence presented?
In addition to the basic questions above, ask the following questions, which were adapted from A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 6th ed. by Mary Lynn Rampolla (New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009).
Visual resources include photographs, film, video, paintings, drawings, cartoons, prints, designs, and three-dimensional art such as sculpture and architecture and can be categorized as fine art or documentary record. Some visual resources are one-of-a-kind, while others are reproduced (like prints or illustrations in books and magazines).
Paintings, drawings, watercolors, graphic art, prints, sculpture, and architectural drawings and plans fall under the heading of original art.
Museums, art galleries, and libraries are readily accessible repositories for art. If their holdings are not fully on display, catalogs are generally available.
Photographs are highly useful sources for researchers. Even a poor quality photographs can have value as a unique record. Like other visual resources, photographs can convey information about vanished worlds, demolished buildings, and forgotten customs and ways of life.
Moving images, both fiction and nonfiction, are useful for research. There is a rich world of documentary films and newsreels, though some of it has unfortunately been lost forever. Perhaps more than other visual sources, moving images allow you close access to the past.
Prints are art works reproduced in multiple copies. These include graphic art, etchings, engravings, lithographs, woodcuts, mezzotints, posters, trade cards, artists' prints, computer-generated graphics, and book illustrations.