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AQA History coursework : analysing sources?

Hi,
I was wondering what is the best method of assessing the credibility of sources used in your AQA history coursework?

Obviously quotes from politicians,military officials etc its easier, you can say they may be trying to protect their own political credibility etc......

but what about with general textbooks? or would you simply say this source appears to be reliable as there is no evidence of bias?

thanks
Reply 1
In the case of textbooks or historians, it's best to match their interpretation against others and against 'the facts'. The examiner almost certainly won't like it if the source evaluation is just "there is no reason for the author to lie, therefore this is reliable", cross-reference is important.
Just because something is accepted as an historical consensus doesn't necessarily make it true. Textbooks, whilst more balanced than monographs, will still be presenting the author's point of view. Every historian has a point of view- hence historiography, examining these- and textbooks will still incorporate these. The author has to simplify to an extent- they can't say that "Historian X thinks this, Y this, whereas Z thinks the other" to every single statement so they generally make generalisations.

They'll also be writing for an audience of students, some of whom may not be particularly advanced or capable of complex analysis.

Yes, authors are generally aware of this, but still the authors of textbooks have points of view and they can be contrasted with others. Ergo whereas they're not "biased" as such (HATE that word!) they are still influenced by the author's point of view.
Hi,

When looking at historical interpretations, there are a number of criteria that one should be keen to look at so as to analyse why the text was written, giving one a true impression of why such a text states what it does.

First of all, it must be determined who the author of the book actually is: 'a high-level insider', 'an expert outsider', OR 'an ordinary person with personal involvement in an event'? Each of these categories of people are equally as important as the other as they provide an example of how history can interpreted for many a person.

However, one MUST take into account why such a text has been produced. For example, if a text is written at the time of an event (say for example the African-American Civil Rights Movement, particularly looking at the role of Martin Luther King Jr.), a person writing at the time (i.e. August Meier in the 1960s) is almost certainly going to be influenced by contextual factors of the time, such as the heavy involvement of the press whom would often celebrate and place upon a pedastal one person whom is in the public eye.
However, once an event is over, there are those known as Revisionist historians who will hope to assert a separate point of view as to the pinnacle of whatever event/advancement may be in question. So, to take the CRM again as an example, revisionist historians of the movement c.1980s ~ early '90s tended to herald the importance of Grass-Roots activism and the works of other groups and leaders. Therefore one may call these texts (although I hate using this word) "biased"; although this may truly be the opinion of the historian.
Finally, there are those who write post-Revisionist periods, who tend to take a more balanced approach to such events. These individuals tend to look at both sides of the audience, using historiography from both sides of the argument (whilst also using the experiences of others) to form their judgement.



Hopefully I have made it somewhat clearer how to look at and interpret the usefulness of sources, breaking it down into the context that one needs to look at in relation to when their source was produced. HAPPY WRITING! :biggrin:
Original post by Tom_Hedderick
Hi,

When looking at historical interpretations, there are a number of criteria that one should be keen to look at so as to analyse why the text was written, giving one a true impression of why such a text states what it does.

First of all, it must be determined who the author of the book actually is: 'a high-level insider', 'an expert outsider', OR 'an ordinary person with personal involvement in an event'? Each of these categories of people are equally as important as the other as they provide an example of how history can interpreted for many a person.

However, one MUST take into account why such a text has been produced. For example, if a text is written at the time of an event (say for example the African-American Civil Rights Movement, particularly looking at the role of Martin Luther King Jr.), a person writing at the time (i.e. August Meier in the 1960s) is almost certainly going to be influenced by contextual factors of the time, such as the heavy involvement of the press whom would often celebrate and place upon a pedastal one person whom is in the public eye.
However, once an event is over, there are those known as Revisionist historians who will hope to assert a separate point of view as to the pinnacle of whatever event/advancement may be in question. So, to take the CRM again as an example, revisionist historians of the movement c.1980s ~ early '90s tended to herald the importance of Grass-Roots activism and the works of other groups and leaders. Therefore one may call these texts (although I hate using this word) "biased"; although this may truly be the opinion of the historian.
Finally, there are those who write post-Revisionist periods, who tend to take a more balanced approach to such events. These individuals tend to look at both sides of the audience, using historiography from both sides of the argument (whilst also using the experiences of others) to form their judgement.



Hopefully I have made it somewhat clearer how to look at and interpret the usefulness of sources, breaking it down into the context that one needs to look at in relation to when their source was produced. HAPPY WRITING! :biggrin:



This would undoubtedly have been useful advice, but the original question was posted 5 years ago :/
Reply 5
Original post by AdvanceAndVanquish
This would undoubtedly have been useful advice, but the original question was posted 5 years ago :/


Nevertheless useful to others! I'm doing a source evaluation now and I've found this answer very helpful :smile:
Original post by AdvanceAndVanquish
This would undoubtedly have been useful advice, but the original question was posted 5 years ago :/


Although the original question was posted almostfive years ago, if I and others are still able to find this thread, then surely this is still useful.
Original post by Vimesy
Nevertheless useful to others! I'm doing a source evaluation now and I've found this answer very helpful :smile:


I found it useful!
Thank you!!!!
Thank you so much for this! Very helpful answer

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