For most of your history projects up until this point in the year your sources have been provided for you. For the transatlantic trade project you are free to select your own sources. With this freedom comes responsibility. What kinds of sources will you choose? How do you choose the right ones? What makes one source better than another?
It is essential that you evaluate your sources and pick sources (websites, books, and databases) that are not only appropriate for school but sources that are accurate and well researched. By running through a list of criteria you can quickly identify sources that are worth your time. This is a good practice to follow whether you are researching something for school or looking up information for your own knowledge. Use TOECAP to evaluate your sources:
School projects require the use of scholarly sources. This is why many teachers don't allow Wikipedia and other non-scholarly sites. The sources you use should be appropriate, well researched, unbiased books or websites. Your sources MATTER and reflect the work you put in to your project. With that in mind, you should be evaluating each and every source you use. You can use the following TOECAP criteria:
TRUSTWORTHY? Ask yourself:
- Is the information on the site reliable?
- Who created the site?
- Are "they" well-known?
- Should you trust "them"?
- Where did "they" get their information?
OBJECTIVE? Ask yourself:
- Is the site objective (based on facts only) or subjective (expresses an opinion)?
- Who created the site?
- Do "they" have any reason to be biased about this information?
- What is "their" perspective based on?
ENOUGH? Ask yourself:
- Does the site have enough information for you? Or just a sentence or two?
- Does it have too much information? Do the details overwhelm you/slow you down?
- Is it easy to find information on the site?
- Is it easy to navigate around the site?
CURRENT? Ask yourself:
- How recent is the information on the site?
- When was the site last updated? Does it even tell you?
- Is the "Last Updated" date closer to 1917 or 2017?
ACCURATE? Ask yourself:
- Does the info on the site seem right to you?
- Does the information make sense?
- Can you find the same information/facts on a different site?
- Does it seem like someone edits the site or are there spelling/grammar errors?
PURPOSE? Ask yourself:
- What's the purpose of the site?
- Who created the site and why?
- Why do "they" want you to visit the site?
- Are "they" just presenting information or are "they" trying to convince you of something?
- Are they making money from this site in any way? (advertisements, etc.)