Digital Source Critique

In the digital age , more and more students and historians are using digital sources. Since the number of those sources is growing daily, it is imperative that historians critically reflect on those sources in the same way they would if those sources were found in archives.


Source critique is an essential skill of every historian and it is taught to every history student right off the bat. Historians always try to answerthe famous “W questions” for every source they work on and yet when it comes to digital sources this is often neglected. In order to critically evaluate digital sources it is imperative that there is metadata attached to them.


It is not enough to just find a digital source, we must also get as much information as possible on the entire lifecycle of such a digital source. Without the contextual information of the meta-data, any source is of limited historical value to the historian. The ‘internal’ source criticism can offer interesting and valuable information about the technical, aesthetic and narrative nature of the source under examination, but in order to offer a historical interpretation of the function, role or importance of a specific source based on a specific historical question, ‘internal’ and ‘external’ source criticism need to go hand in hand.


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