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tips on how to write a source analysis

5 years ago

Answered By Carole S

Those can be tough! Here are the steps that I used to help me:

1. Determine if the three sources are primary or secondary. This helps determine the relevance of the source, and what kind of experience the author has with the subject matter. 

2. Try to where the source comes from - who is the author, when is it published. Are you given any publishing information? This also helps determine relevance. Determining the who, what, when where and why is extremely important. 

3. The analysis! Use your classroom knowledge to try and determine the sources relevance. Why would it be relevant to the intended audience - this is where step 1 and 2 come in. If it is say, a political cartoon depicting a charicature of a political figure, ask yourself "so what?" or "Why is this important? Why does this matter?" Use your own opinions here - but ask your teacher whether or not "I" statements are allowed.

4. Try and evaluate. How trustworthy is the source? Is it fact or opinion? What historical context is it missing, and how agreeable is it? If it is an opinion, is it popular or unpopular? These aren't all questions - just things to keep in mind when evaluating it. Anything you might think to be relevant is important here. 

5. Last step is to identify how the sources relate to one another. Is it an equation? Source A plus source B equals the views in source C? Is it a timeline of events, or are they different viewpoints of the same debate?

6. RE-READ! Always make sure, if you have time at the end (assuming this is a timed test) always make sure to double-check grammar, diction and if your arguments make sense and follow through. The arguments don't have to be revolutionary - just analyze, compare and contrast. 

A few more tips:

A. I always make a brief outline. Mark up the sources, circle things you think are important, underline, highlight and make notes to the side. Write down key words that you think are relevant to the source, and that might have been outlined in class.

B. Keep yourself aware of the time! Make sure you have enough time to finish the test - after all, having something written down and the test completed is the number one goal. 

Good luck!