Exercise 5: Evaluating Sources

You're writing a paper with the following research question:

Has the modern women's movement forced the Roman Catholic Church to consider allowing women to take leadership positions within the church?

Which of the following sources would you initially evaluate as useful to you?

Source 1

International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences,1968

A useful source?

The International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences might seem like a good place to start. However, the last edition to come out was in 1968. Therefore, the information in this specialized encyclopedia is very dated. Also, this source is not very strong in religion. You'd probably be wasting your time using this as a source.

Source 2

An article, "The History of Women and the Church," in a 1992 copy of the journal Church and Society.

A useful source?

This article, "The History of Women and the Church," in a 1992 editi0on of the journal Church and Society, should be an excellent source for background reading. Note, however, that it is at least three years old, so it will not chronicle the most recent events or attitudes. Because it is a journal article (as opposed to a magazine article), you should expect it to go into some depth about the subject. Remember, journals are written for people interested specifically -- and often academically -- in a particular field, not for a general readership. Such a source might bring you up to speed about your topic, but it might not yield information that's specific or focused enough for you to use as a source in your paper.

Source 3

A book, "Growing Up Catholic: An Infinitely Funny Guide for the Faithful, the Fallen, and Everyone In-Between."

A useful source?

The title of this book, 'Growing Up Catholic: An Infinitely Funny Guide for the Faithful, the Fallen, and Everyone In-Between,' should indicate that this source is not appropriate, since it takes only a humorous view of the Church, and because it is a guide book, not a serious analysis. It would be good ONLY as a source for an anecdote you might use in your paper.

Source 4

A book, "Feminist Theory: The Intellectual Traditions of American Feminism."

A useful source?

The book, "Feminist Theory: The Intellectual Traditions of American Feminism," is one that you probably will not find very useful, except as background reading on feminism. By skimming the table of contents and the index you can see quickly if there is any mention of women and the Catholic Church.

Source 5

An article, "A Symposium on the Catholic Ethic and Feminism," in the International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, published in 1995.

A useful source?

An article, "A Symposium on the Catholic Ethic and Feminism," in the International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, published in 1995, should be a good source for your paper. This article is published in a journal, so it will have some depth, it is recent and the word "symposium" in the title suggests that it will provide many viewpoints on the subject of feminism and the Catholic Church.

Source 6-Evaluating Sources

An article, "Feminism Corrupts the Church," in Catholic Digest, published in 1995.

A useful source?

An article titled, "Feminism Corrupts the Church," in Catholic Digest, will be only moderately useful to you. First of all, the title of the article suggests an obvious bias with the verb "corrupts." Generally, you want sources that deal as objectively as possible with your subject. Secondly, this is a magazine article, written for general readership, so it will not go into depth on the subject. However, it might be useful to read as background on the negative response to feminism in the church, and it might help you build a case that the church is promoting an anti-feminist attitude.

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