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HUMA 1301 | Love, Lust, & Heartbreak

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Types of Resources

Primary sources are records or documents created at the time historical events occurred. Primary sources could also be made after historical events have taken place by someone who participated in those events (for example, memoirs or oral histories). Some of the most common types of primary sources are letters, manuscripts, diaries, newspapers, statistics, interviews, memoirs, oral histories, speeches, objects, or artifacts.

Secondary sources interpret or analyze an historical event. Most secondary sources are books with footnotes or endnotes, journal and magazine articles that analyze or interpret past events, biographies, book reviews, literary criticism, or recreations of artwork or artifacts.

Keywords & Boolean Operators

Keywords are the terms you use when searching a database. Unlike Google, databases don't try to read or interpret your searches to figure out what you need; databases simply match your search terms, your keywords, to the information they have on their articles. 

To generate keywords, think about your search topic and write down the big idea terms. Don't think of it in terms of the question you want answered, think of it in terms of the words that would show up in your ideal article. Think of synonims to those terms and other related big picture words. Then do a search in one of our databases. Take note of what other words keep cominmg up, and add them to your list of keywords. This is a trial and error process, so give yourself some time and don't give up!

Boolean Operators are words that you can use in between keywords to widen or narrow your search as necessary. They're very easy to use and can make a big difference! The most popular boolean operators are:

  • AND--Use in between keywords when you want both of those words to show up in your search
  • OR--use between keywords that are synonimous or interchangeable. Save yourself a search!
  • NOT--use before a keyword when you want to exclude that word from the search

Most databases have an "advanced search" option that allows you to make boolean searches with ease. Try it out!

The CRAAP Test: Evaluate Your Sources

CRAAP is an acronym for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. Use the CRAAP Test to evaluate your sources.

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?   

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?
    •  Keep in mind, while .gov websites are restricted to U.S. governmental organizations, anyone can purchase any other domain types. Even .edu domains aren't always trustworthy.

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?| Central Library: 281-476-1850 | Generation Park Campus: 281-998-6150 x8133 | North Library: 281-459-7116 | South Library: 281-998-6150 ext. 3306