When doing research it is important to evaluate and question every source you use. It is also essential to understand that information is created for a purpose and that it is intertwined with other information.
When doing research, it is important to evaluate the resources you have collected and understand what they are trying to say.
Documents are information or data fixed in some media.
Documents can be of any media and formats: paper texts, photographs, audio recordings, video recordings, databases, spreadsheets, geographical information systems, and web pages.
Documents have content, context, and structure.
Documents convey information.
Discovering a document is like finding clues in an investigation. Oftentimes, not just one document (clue) tells the story, but many of them pieced together can.
Evaluate the document by asking questions of it and using your knowledge and detective skills. Concepts to keep in mind: Intention, Interpretation, Presumption, and Truth, Belief, and Justification.
Adapted from: Patrick Rael, Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students (Brunswick, ME: Bowdoin College, 2004)
1. What kind of document is it?
2. What do you see? What is your first impression of the document?
3. Who created it?
4. When was it created?
5. Where was it created?
6. What is its main topic?
7. Why was it created?
8. What is the context of the document? What was happening at the time the document was created?
9. What questions do you have after evaluating the document?
10. What other documents or evidence will help you understand the topic or event?
Adapted from: National Archives, Document Analysis Worksheets (https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets)