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Evaluating Sources: Using the RADAR Framework

The RADAR Framework can help you remember what kinds of questions you should be asking about an information source as you evaluate it for quality and usefulness in your research.

Link to LMU's Primary Sources LibGuide

Primary, Secondary, & Tertiary Sources

Types of Sources Definition Characteristics Examples
Primary Original documents created or experienced concurrently with the event being researched. First hand observations, contemporary accounts of the event. Viewpoint of the time. Interviews, news footage, data sets, original research, speeches, diaries, letters, creative works, photographs
Secondary Works that analyze, assess, or interpret a historical event, an era, or a phenomenon. Generally uses primary sources. Interpretation of information, usually written well after an event. Offers reviews or critiques. Research studies, literary criticism, book reviews, biographies, textbooks
Tertiary Sources that identify, locate, and synthesize primary AND secondary sources. Reference works, collections of lists of primary and secondary sources, finding tools for sources. Encyclopedias, bibliographies, dictionaries, manuals, textbooks, fact books



Primary & Secondary Source Examples by Discipline





Image Credits (in order of appearance) 

Unknown. Victorious Youth. 300-100 B.C. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA. The Getty. Web. 7 Feb. 2014.

Kim, Eugene, and Philip K. Hopke. "Source Characterization of Ambient Fine Particles in the Los Angeles Basin." Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science 6.4 (2007): 343-53 ProQuest. Web. 7 Feb. 2014.

Mathat, Asa. Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Interviewer Carol Loomis of Fortune. Photograph Flickr. Fortune Live Media, 4 Oct. 2011. Web. 7 Feb. 2014.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Pub. L. 107-110. 115 Stat. 1425. 08 Jan. 2002 Web. 7 Feb. 2014.

McQueen, Alexander. Ensemble, Widows of Culloden. autumn/winter 2006-7. Dress of McQueen wool tartan; top of nude silk net appliquéd with black lace; underskirt of cream silk tulle. Courtesy of Alexander McQueen. Photograph. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Web. 7 Feb. 2014.