Methodologies: Identifying and Assessing Sources


AFR 402

September 16, 2015

Identifying and Assessing Sources

            When writing any kind of academic essay, article, or thesis a choice must be made in regard of sources. Outside of information these sources dictate the style and the texture of the piece one is writing. In the writings of Colin Palmer, Lewis Gordon, and Ruth Reviere exist three different examples of how one might integrate various sources to supplement their assertions on African American Studies.

Colin Palmer, the first of our three authors, offers a more traditional thesis. Armed with an abstract, background, and chronology Palmer lays out a full history and possible future for African American studies. His sources aid the almost clinical feel of his piece, citing a mixture of historical texts, books and theoretical articles questioning the place of African American studies. With each assertion made about the academic field of African American studies, its history and methodologies, Palmer takes care to contextualize it with actual time pieces such as Langston Hughe’s “I, too, Sing America.” Palmer offers the young research student the quintessential exemplar of The Research Essay.

On the other hand Lewis R. Gordon offers the reader an alternative to the sterility of the research essay, by offering a smooth article pondering the actual workings of the African Diasporic Field. Published in The Black Scholar, Gordon’s piece works from a small group of material rather than the broad scope of sources exhibited in Palmer’s essay. That being said his article is infused with nothing but substantive sources that drive this theoretical article forward, instead of fact-of-the-matter general historical sources. Because Gordon is not working entirely from a historical framework, he is free to delve deeply in his claims and texts.

Lastly Ruth Reviere employs all sorts of sources to supplement her call for an even more Afro-centralized African Diasporic studies field. Between published collections of essays, novels, APA journals, and academic as well as newspaper articles Reviere seems to have it all. However her piece seems to be primarily focused on one text while the others simply serve as a reference for the reader. Her references don’t offer the reader a history, and seem to be quickly thrown in to protect intellectual property. Though her sources for the most part aren’t general, they don’t seem to be entirely employed. These three authors offer the research student a close look at the various kinds of work they can do but also a look at how one can interact with their references. Substantive references that not only speak to one’s assertions but also allow them to work within the text. [Sources rich in quality]* will rule over general references of fact.Excusing the length of a project, working from a small host of excellent sources will [be preferable]* over a litany of articles, books, journals, and webpages. Ultimately the sources make or break the paper.

*Edited September 22, 2016


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