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Acting 5 Theatre 570: Scene Work in Pre-Modern Texts: Evaluating & Citing Sources

Finding what an actor might need to prepare to perform

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating Sources  

Just a few things to think about "The Internet" vs. The Library Resources that are accessed via the Internet, or why Wikipedia, or Google are a good place to start, but can't be your only sources. The resources that the Library provides to you that are accessed over the Internet are not, per se, "The Internet." They are electronic versions of things that were, for the most part, once printed resources. Indexes, dictionaries, digitized images, even whole books. So they retain their scholarly value while things that you find in Wikipedia,, or Google are put there by anyone who feels like it and you really can't trust it without extensive additional research - e.g. the recent stories about the businesses and politicians that have been altering their Wikipedia entries to eliminate events that give them bad PR, so its scholarly value is often suspect. More details are available from the UWM Libraries' FAQ on this page


A discussion of why Wikipedia is not a reliable source can be found in the article in the box below. This is the citation for the article.

Waters, Neil L. "Why You Can't Cite Wikipedia In My Class," in Communications of the ACM, September 2007 (vol 50, no 9) pp. 15-17.

Why You Can't Cite Wikipedia

Citing Sources


Citing Your Sources

Citing your sources is fairly straight forward. You need to provide information that uniquely identifies the item that you're       citing so that someone else can track down it down themselves if they want to. The content of a bibliographic citation is not arbitrary, you need to provide specific information that is determined by the citation format you are using. For most materials they include: author(s), title, publisher, place of publication, date of publication. For some materials you will need to add things like page numbers (for an article or book chapter), URL and date viewed (for a website), date of interview (for a taped or transcribed field interview).

The UWM Libraries has a page that gives information on the different citation formats, with examples. These include, but are not limited to Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), and Chicago Manual of Style which is distilled into an easy to use guide by Kate L. Turabian. The page is

Primary / Secondary Materials

  • Primary and Secondary Sources
    • What is a Primary Source ? The original source of information upon which your research is based. Things like documents (birth/marriage/death certificates), a newspaper article from the time of the events, poems, photographs, and tapes of interviews.
    • What is a Secondary Source ? A description or analysis of materials that are considered primary sources. Things like encyclopedias and dictionaries, or a full-length analytical book or article.

      This webpage at UW-Stevens Point is a terrific way to track if what you are looking at is a primary source or not


    • What are some primary sources that you might find here at UWM ?
      A play script or a musical score, or, depending on what your research is it might be a performance of the play in audio or video format.
      Magazines in the stacks, e.g. if you're staging a play set in the 1960s you might want to know what the stereo in a bachelor pad looked like, so a primary source for that would be to look at Life or HiFi Review from the time. The New York Times Theater Reviews would be another primary source - reading what was written after the first night of production
      Photographs of events, letters from the people in the photographs, or very old books. The UWM Archives and the American Geographical Society Library have a wealth of materials available for browsing that would be considered primary sources. For example, the papers of Milwaukee theater figure Larry Shue, the archives of the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre include things like programs and contracts, and these are supplemented by the production photographs by Mark Avery. The AGSL has a map that dates back to the 15th Century (!) and their site can guide to all sorts of amazing stuff


  • Visual Resources
    I've already mentioned a few sources that will include visual materials above, the AGSL and Archives photo collections or HiFi magazine.
    Some of these same sources have digital versions available. They might also considered primary sources. For example, The photos from the AGSL collection of Cities around the World
  • Research Tools Beyond

    • Google Scholar, Records and citations from Google's Web index calculated to be scholarly. Although useful for most topics, it still contains a small subset of available publications; other databases on this page will have additional items on your topic. 

      • Note: You never have to pay to retrieve results. The full text of some results are linked, but for others the Citation Linker can be used to track them down.  

        • Firefox users can install our Google Scholar Find It! Extension for help with this step.


          Ref Works - A web-based tool that helps you manage citations, create bibliographies, and import references from databases. It can convert stored citations into formatted bibliographies. Formatting styles include APA, Chicago, and MLA. To store your citations, you are required to register with them.

    Music, Theatre, & Dance Librarian

    Anna Grau Schmidt's picture
    Anna Grau Schmidt
    Golda Meir Library, User Services
    (414) 251-7510