Validity Reliability and Relevance of Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary sources contain original information, like reports other researchers have made of their findings and other first-hand accounts written by experimenters or witnesses of discoveries or events. They may be found in academic books, journals and other periodicals, and authoritative databases. Secondary sources are resources developed after the first-hand accounts, but offer commentary or interpretations of the first-hand accounts. When working with primary and secondary sources, it is important to check the validity, reliability, and relevance of each source. To check for validity, you want to find other works referring and confirming the source you are wanting to work with. If several other works refer to the source you are working with, it can be considered valid. In order for a source to be considered reliable, it must consistently support your point. If the source doesn’t seem to always agree with what you’re trying to say, it might be best to find another source. Finally, to determine if a source is relevant, you must see how well the source applies to your essay. The source and your essay may have similar themes, but if the setting in which you are writing about is vastly different than the setting the source is in, the source cannot be considered relevant.


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Last updated: 12/18/2017
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