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GEO 300: Source Types & Evaluation

  Understanding and evaluating different types of sources

This page provides links to information on the types of sources you may need to use for this project, as well as the proper way to evaluate any sources. 

Popular versus Scholarly

Evaluating Popular and Scholarly Sources 

Click on the above link to learn about the difference between popular sources (like Time Magazine, Newsweek, and Business Week) and scholarly sources (such as The Journal of American History, Scandinavian Studies). 

Primary versus Secondary

Understanding Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources 

Click on the above link to learn about the differences between primary sources (created during the time period being studied), secondary sources (created after the fact), and tertiary sources (typically, a combination of primary and secondary sources that provide a summary of information). 


  • Primary source: Einstein's diary
  • Secondary source: A book about Einstein's life
  • Tertiary source: Textbook on Einstein's Theory of Relativity

Evaluating Websites

Evaluating Webpage as Sources 

Click on the above link to visit UCBerkeley's guide on how to effectively evaluate webpages to use as sources in your research project. (First, check with your professor to make sure you are allowed to use webpages as sources.) 

Evaluating Sources


How an individual reasons from evidence to claims to arguments is often influenced by both rational and emotional factors, elements of one’s identity, and values and belief systems. Only by keeping your personal biases in check can one truly begin to evaluate information for credibility.

Personal steps
 Identify emotions attached to topic.
 Find unbiased reference sources for proper review of topic. (Go to Credo Reference.)

Intellectual courage to seek authoritative voices on topic that may be outside of thesis.

 Source steps
 Authority established. Does the author have education and experience in that field?
 Purpose/Point of view of source. Does the author have an agenda beyond education or information?
 Publisher? Does the publisher have an agenda?
 List of sources (bibliography). Is the evidence sound?
 Year of publication. Does the year of publication effect the information?