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IA Section C - Evaluation of Sources (5 marks)
Markbands and student examples

 A suggested number of words for this section is 400 (200 per source).

This section should consist of:

  • a critical evaluation of two important sources appropriate to the investigation
  • explicit reference to the origin, purpose, value and limitation of the selected sources.

 The two sources chosen should be appropriate for the investigation and could, for example, be written, oral or archeological. The purpose of this section is to assess the usefulness of the sources but not to describe their content or nature.


Guidelines and Suggestions

Put simply, you are creating an OPVL for two of your sources.

When stating the name of the title of your book use this format:

Title: Sub-title. (Make sure you separate title from subtitle with a colon and capitalize major words.

Within ORIGIN you must provide the academic credentials of the author; if you cannot find anything on the author in the book, search the internet. If you still cannot find information on your author, SAY SO. It is not necessary to put in every academic post or professorship the authors have held.

For PURPOSE: The best authors will typically express purpose in the preface/introduction/first chapter. You may have to search for the purpose. NOTE: even narratives have a purpose. If you cannot locate a clearly articulated purpose, you may use language such as: “It appears that the author’s purpose is…

For VALUE AND LIMITATIONS: These sections may not be balanced. One side of the argument may be more substantive than the other.

VALUE: Explain why this source is valuable in general, and address why it is particularly important to your research. Make specific references to the text and its sources; use quotes. You may comment on footnotes of the book, what kinds of sources the author used, etc.

LIMITATIONS: Again, you must be specific, providing examples from the text, quotes, etc. Limitations could include a critique of sources; a critique of whether or not the coverage is too broad to meet the author’s objectives; if the author is using out of date scholarship, relying on only newspaper articles, etc. Why might a historian need to show some degree of caution using this source?

It is like going to a Chinese restaurant and complaining there isn't any pizza on the menu.

Examples of Section Cs

Example 1

Example 1
Word Count: 365
Marks: 3 of 4

Applebaum, Anne. 2003. Gulag: A History. Great Britain


Published in 2003, Anne Applebaum's, Gulag: A History is a chronological history of the Gulag camps. Applebaum has tried to give readers a look into the logic behind the creation of the camps, and events leading up to their installation. This source was very well written, blending historical fact with interesting prose. Since the source was written fifty years after the events took place, there seems to be no real bias by the author. All sources used in the book, are clearly noted by the author, and there are quite an array adding perspective. Applebaum looked at the events surrounding the formation of the Gulags; she also included a large section about life inside the camps. Extensive personal accounts are quoted throughout, allowing the reader to hear firsthand how prisoners worked, ate, lived, and died. Although this has been an excellent source, one limitation is the vast amount of information contained in the book. A limitation to this source when using it to research the gulags, was that it was hard to find where a specific topic was described, when the book was written like a novel.

Solzhenitsyn, Alexsandr I. 1973. The Gulag Archipelago 1918 - 1956. New York


Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn's epic account of the gulag system was published in 1973. The purpose of Solzhenitsyn's famous book is the story of the gulag camp system using his firsthand knowledge. This is of great value to anyone researching the history of the gulags. Solzhenitsyn describes daily life in the camps, along with the trial and arrest before his transport to the camps. Another value of The Gulag Archipelago is the pictures that Solzhenitsyn includes; it allows the reader to visualize what is being described. Although this was a very helpful source it is challenging to find specific details due to the style in which the book is written - like a novel. It is one person's account; there is no mention of the broad spectrum of camp systems that were quite varied throughout the camps' history. It is a one sided look at the gulags, but will forever be the breakthrough look into the world of the gulag.


Example 2

Word Count: 482

Mark: 4 of 4

McKee, Alexander. 1982. Dresden 1945: The Devil's Tinderbox. New York


Written in 1982, Alexander McKee's account of the Dresden city bombings in The Devil's Tinderbox serves as an analytical assessment of the attacks. Alexander McKee is a widely published British military historian who was also a soldier with the 1st Canadian Army. He witnessed the final destruction of many towns in the name of warfare and took a special interest in the validity of the bombings of Dresden. The purpose of McKee's study is mainly to analyze both sides of the argument of whether the bombings were justified. McKee examines stories as told by Dresden residents who survived the bombings. McKee also delves into official records recently declassified, to examine the political aspects of the raid. In doing this McKee is able to establish the reasons put forward for allowing the raids and the psychological effects of the raids.


This document is very valuable to my research. The author investigates a topic similar to the topic of my research. He presents valid data including government documents that are essential to my research and analysis. Though the document is packed with valuable information, this is also a limitation. With my time constraints it has been difficult to read through the whole book and absorb all of its information. One other limitation that I have come across is that the author is clearly against the decision to carry out the bombings. It is very difficult to find information supporting the bombings.


Sheehy, Dick. 1995. Dresden Plus 93 Days. Great Britain


This document is a firsthand account of the bombings of Dresden as told by Dick Sheehy who was a British prisoner of war in Dresden at the time of the bombings. The account was written in 1995 and published in a copy of History Today. The purpose of this document is to give a firsthand account of the bombings of Dresden. It not only tells of the night of the bombings, but also goes into detail about the events that followed. The author accounts the physical and mental struggles that he went through as a result of the bombing.


This article has value in that it is a firsthand account. The author goes into great detail about his experience, leaving the reader to come to his or her own conclusions about whether the bombings were justifiable. The document gives evidence that supports research into the emotional impact of the air raids. This value, however, can also act as a limitation. Because the article is a first-hand account, there is a strong possibility that the author has forgotten important details. Also, the author has written his account many years after the event, allowing for his memory to have been altered. He may, as a result of the mental impacts of the war, think that some things may have happened when in fact they did not.

Grading Criteria

 Marks          Level Descriptor

0        There is no description or evaluation of the sources.

1        The sources are described but there is no reference to their origin, purpose, value and limitation.

2–3     There is some evaluation of the sources but reference to their origin, purpose, value and limitation may be limited.

4–5     There is evaluation of the sources and explicit reference to their origin, purpose, value and limitation.



Failure to submit section draft on time: 1 mark deduction for each day late.