My students just turned in a bibliography assignment. I teach world history. I’ve never researched any of the topics they landed on. Yet, I am able to give comments such as these:

Hmm….I’d say almost none of these look like primary sources—in general, things reprinted in books with these type of titles are not personal accounts of involvement, but scholarly analyses.

How is the student supposed to know that?

The primary sources I’d expect for this topic might be IMF/World Bank/UN papers, documents from the Brazilian government, newspaper articles, autobiographies of politicians/activists, magazine interviews with same, etc.

Okay, maybe that I could expect them to figure out, but I’ve never asked them to. How do you learn to know that? How do I teach that?

Is this early enough to match the rest of your sources? Something about the title suggests 1800s to me, not 1500s.

Now that one is just pure intuition (okay, learned from reading lots and lots of translated primary sources from the early modern era).

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