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Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts (1st edn)

Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan
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date: 07 December 2023

Source Criticismlocked

Source Criticismlocked

  • Jean-Frédéric Morin,
  • Christian Olsson
  •  and Ece Özlem Atikcan


This chapter illustrates source criticism, which is a technical and intellectual method used to track down the itinerary of a source of information. It aims to identify the producer, determine its initial meaning, and establish its conformity as an authentic unaltered source that yields truthful information. The general aims of source criticism are now widely shared by all social science disciplines. Though interdisciplinary in nature, its treatment and implementation vary according to the fields and sources concerned. The use and application of criticism can differ considerably depending on whether a study relies directly on people, documents, or other potential evidence. Ultimately, source criticism provides scientific legitimacy and rigour in the social science disciplines, where the nature and diversity of levels of intermediation and interpretation in the observational and empirical process can often prove misleading.

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