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:
Author's First Name Last Name, Title: Sub-title. (Make sure you separate title from subtitle with a colon and capitalize major words. For instance: 

Jeffrey Hyer, I.B. Crazy: I.A.s are Fun.

EXCEPTION TO THE ABOVE RULE: If the SUB-TITLE makes the title really long, such as the example immediately below, eliminate the subtitle.

TOO LONG: Arthur L. Smith, The War for the German Mind: Re-Educating Hitler's Soldiers

JUST RIGHT: Arthur L. Smith, The War for the German Mind

Within ORIGIN you must provide the year AND place the source was produced / published 


the "provenance" of the author. This means the author's origins / credibility / knowledge on the subject matter of the source. If it is a secondary source written by a historian, briefly list his academic credentials. If the author was a witness to events, indicate this.  NOTE: Keep the provenance of the author to a sentence. i.e. ...has published several nooks on the subject and is a Harvard professor OR Was a veteran of the Crete Campaign and helped implement the Marshall Plan after WWII as undersecretary of state....

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…
  • Do not quote directly from the book regarding Origin and purpose. Put any material in your own words. Nothing should have to be cited.

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

NOTE: When examining the source's V & L, be sure you reference the source's Origin and Purpose. In other words, why is the source valuable because of its origin and purpose. Because of its O & P, it may be limited because....

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?

Just because a source doesn't help you find specific information, doesn't necessarily make it a limitation. It might not be the author's purpose. It is like going to a Chinese restaurant and complaining there isn't any pizza on the menu.

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.

Examiner Notes:

  • Passing "boilerplate evaluation" on OPVL cannot get above a three.
  • Evaluation of a textbook or poor online source cannot get above a two.
  • In several cases the candidates references to the origin, purpose, value and limitation was rather restricted although better than in previous years.