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Art History & Architecture History

This guide identifies basic resources for research in art and architectural history.

Evaluating Sources

Below are some important things to consider when you are choosing which books, articles, and websites to use in your assignments.

Reliability

Is the information accurate and dependable? Do the facts match up?

Credibility 

Is the primary voice an expert? What are their credentials? Primary voice could mean author or interviewee.

Validity

Where is the information coming from? It is personal opinion or research-based? Is there a bibliography or works cited section you can refer to?

Timeliness

When was it published?

Audience

Who was the article written for? Children? Scholars? Sometimes you can tell by the language - complexity and jargon suggest that it is written for a knowledgeable audience.

Bias

Does it discuss multiple sides of an issue or just one? Why was it written - for sales? to sway opinion?

Relevance

Is the article about what you are researching? How well does it address your research topic? Read the abstract or introduction and conclusion to figure this out. Remember, just because an article mentions your artist, doesn't mean it's actually about them.

Considering all of these elements can help determine if your source is a good one to use for your topic. You often don't need to read the whole item to evaluate a source. Read the abstract or introduction and conclusion to make a decision about if the resource is going to work for you. If it is, then read the whole thing.

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