Corroboration

Photo from the Camp David Accord.
Photo from the Camp David Accord. Source: www.egyptindependent.com

When you are analysing a source, it is helpful to compare what information it provides when compared with other sources. This helps you to more successfully evaluate your sources, especially in regards to their accuracy.

What is 'corroboration'?


Corroboration is the ability to compare information provided by two separate sources and find similarities between them.

 

When a second source provides the same or similar information to the first, the second source is considered to corroborate (e.g. support, or agree with) with first.

 

Finding corroboration between sources strengthens your conclusions, especially when you are making a historical argument.

 

When choosing sources to corroborate, pick those that are deemed particularly reliable, which adds further certainty to your claims.

How do I find corroboration?


In order to identify information that is agreed upon by two different sources, following these steps:

  1. Read the first source and summarise the key points of historical information they provide. Using direct and indirect quotes helps with this.
  2. Read the second source and summarise the key points of historical information they provide. Using direct and indirect quotes helps with this.
  3. Compare the two different summaries that you wrote and then look for the same or similar information in both lists.
  4. Any information that is similar between the two can be used as evidence for corroboration.
  5. Any information provided by one source that is not found in the other cannot be used in corroboration. 

To help you complete the above steps successfully, you can use a Venn Diagram, or a table like the one below to organise your thoughts:

Information Found in Source 1 Information Found in Source 2 Information Found in Both Sources

 

 

 

   

What if the two sources provide conflicting information?


If, in the process of finding corroboration between sources, you find that the two sources provide information that is different to each other, you have potential discovered contradiction between them. This is another source analysis skill and you can find out more about contradiction here.

Examples


Demonstrating source corroboration in your writing:


Smith says that “the Spartans’ victory was dependent upon their superior military training” (1981, 31), which is supported by Jones who says that “the Persians could not match the Spartan’s disciplined tactics” (1994, 56-62).

 

Influential anti-imperialist writers Chomsky and Blum say the same thing: violence should not be used by anti-US campaigners (Chomsky, 1998, 34; Blum, 2006, 112).

 

Chomsky and Blum, influential anti-imperialist writers, have both cautioned members of more extremist anti-US movements against violence (Chomsky, 1998, 34; Blum, 2006, 112).