7 Ways to Check Your Sources

I’m going through previous blog posts looking for materials to share with you. My intent is to flesh out the 7 Elements of Historical fiction, which just happens to be the most popular post on my blog. Having just reread a bit from Your Grandmother is Lying by Leah Klocek it strikes me that not only is this bit relevant to those writing historical fiction, but in this world of fake news and deliberate misinformation, the advice could be helpful to all of us.

Leah asks: Did you take AP history classes in high school? If so, prepare for a flashback when I say this: APPARTS.

APPARTS is an acronym used to help students critically analyze primary and secondary source documents. It breaks down into the following categories and questions, each of which you should be able to answer before you can decide how trustworthy a source is and whether you can, with any integrity, use the information it gives you:

Author: Who created the source? What was his/her background? Did s/he have a vested interest in pushing a specific point of view?

Place and Time: In what time and place was this source produced? What about this time and place may have affected the meaning of the source?

Prior Knowledge: What additional information do you already know that might be relevant in analyzing this source?

Audience: For whom was this source produced? How does the intended audience alter the reliability of the source?

Reason: Why was this source produced at this time and place? What is its purpose?

The Main Idea: What is the central message of this source?

Significance: What makes this source important? What inferences can you make from this document?

What do you think?


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

6 thoughts on “7 Ways to Check Your Sources”

  1. So true! And at least one of my grandparents totally lied to the family about his background as we learned from our DNA. I’m looking forward to researching the truth which will undoubtedly be more interesting than the lies.

  2. Me too. In my last year at university, I had to do a compulsory module on ‘Study of History’. Seemed like a terrible waste of time back then, but the techniques I learned have proved invaluable.

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