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If you have never written a research paper at the college level, the process may appear daunting.
To use them well, however, you need to think critically about them.There are two parts of a source that you need to analyze: the text itself and the argument within the text.You evaluate a text to determine the objectivity of the author and the credibility of the work.UNC’s Davis Library contains over five million books and journals. What if the information they present is false, outdated, or biased to the point of inaccuracy? The steps that are outlined below may appear drawn-out and perfunctory to some; each step is outlined in detail so that both novice and advanced researchers can benefit.This will help you approach your sources more carefully and critically.You can be relatively sure that if a university press published the book, it has been held to a high academic standard. You may have to look at other aspects of the book (see below for tips on identifying tone and audience) or look at other books produced by the same publisher to judge the credibility of the text.Remember, you are not looking for ways to exclude works.Non-print sources, such as webpages, works of art (performance and fine), and interviews often provide significant source material for analysis but are not covered in this handout.At some point in your college career, you will be asked to write a research paper.If the article reports past events, it is secondary.Keep in mind that an article about a past event can present valuable primary evidence concerning the author’s context. If you are studying the novel or poem for its own sake, it is a primary source.