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Native American Studies Research Tutorial and Tournament

A guide to searching, obtaining, evaluating, and citing sources for your Native American Studies research assignment.

About this Activity

This activity provides

  • instruction and exercise of practical research skills 
    • finding and evaluating reliable sources 
    • applying critical questions, practical methods, and an informed vocabulary while assessing the authority of potential sources for use in academic research
    • citing sources in APA style 
  • the experience of contributing to a collaborative and interdisciplinary collection of resources for researchers in the area of Native American Studies
  • a foundation for locating and assessing resources for academic research online and in selected library databases to apply later in their individual research projects on contemporary issues of concern to Indigenous / Native Americans in the United States

Learning Outcomes


When you have completed this exercise successfully, you will be able to

Assessing the Authority of Sources: Slides

Assessing the Authority of Sources

Assessing the Authority of Sources: Text Only

Useful Questions, Answers, and Vocabulary

Where do you go when you have an information need?

It depends on your question. It is your job to match the purpose of your source to your information need. Is your information need academic or non-academic? Select and evaluate sources based on your specific need.

Authority: [what] a quality that makes something seem true or real

What does it mean to be true or real?

Authority: [who] a person whose opinion or testimony is accepted as true; the author of an accepted opinion or statement; a person with extensive or specialized knowledge of a particular subject; an expert.

How does a person come to have extensive or specialized knowledge? What does it mean to be an expert?

Authority: [how] a book, passage, etc., accepted as a source of reliable information or evidence, especially one used to settle a question or matter in dispute. The fact or state of possessing credible information.

What does it mean for something to be reliable? Credible? Is there a difference between the two?

Reliable: trustworthy; containing true and legitimate information

What attributes of this digital object are clues to its origin and nature? 

Domains: an identification string in the address of a website, indicating its nature (.com, .gov, .edu, .org)

Extensions: the last part of a computer file name indicating its nature and purpose (pdf, exe, doc, png)

What is my relationship to this digital object, its content and use?  

Evaluate: to judge or determine the reliability of information

Lateral Readingsupplemental reading after searching for multiple perspectives on names, organizations, and topics

Reasoning: the act of thinking through

Who wrote or created this? What was their purpose? Who is the intended audience?

Agenda: a set of goals shaped by an ideology. If an information source has an agenda, it is not strictly informational or educational. It may be a persuasive information source or piece of propaganda, even if it is pretending to be otherwise.

Bias: the tendency of an information source to selectively over-emphasize some things and de-emphasize other things in a way that unfairly favors a certain conclusion or point of view.

Ideology: a belief system shared by a group of people. Religions, political groups, and advocacy groups have ideologies. Not all ideologies are bad. Just because an author subscribes to an ideology does not mean that the information source necessarily has an ideological agenda.