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Carefully selecting your sources can make your assignment or research much easier.
Types of Sources
Determine types of sources required by your instructor and what types of sources best fit your topic
Some assignments only allow students to use peer-reviewed material. Check with your instructor for clarity.
Scholarly Sources: Written by experts (scholars, professors, researchers) in a given field, scholarly sources are highly specialized and often individual research projects that include methodology and theory and may undergo a peer-review process. They include journal articles, books, and some sources found on the web. They assume the reader has some knowledge of the topic.
Trade/Professional Publications: Written by professionals in the field or journalists working for the publisher, these publications report on industry trends, new products or techniques, and discipline-specific news.
Popular Magazines: Written by journalists or freelance writers, popular magazines inform readers about issues of common interest to the general public.
Newspapers: Are written for the general public and have different sections (ranging from investigative reporting to editorials). Look carefully at the section and what is being said in the articles to distinguish the types of articles you have found.
Primary Sources: The terms "primary" or "original" sources are used to describe several different types of sources. In the sciences, original research or primary sources describe an original article. In the humanities, a primary source could be the text of a novel or an artifact such as a diary or map. A few books collect primary sources and a number of web collections (often affiliated with a special collection or museum) provide digitized primary sources.
Scholarly writers engage with the work of others through the strategic selection of research and ideas pertinent to the question or problem under discussion.
When trying to decide if a source is pertinent to your question, it can be helpful to ask yourself:
Could this source provide background facts or information?
Could I analyze or interpret this source for my readers?
Could this source refine my research question or extend my thesis?
Could this source be a lens for interpreting competing findings?
Selecting relevant sources is more than finding the type of source that is required and it is more than finding a source that contains your keywords. As the researcher you will want to select sources that enable you to engage a question or a problem.
If You Need:
Scholarly Articles, Books, Statistical Data
Public or Individual Opinions on an Issue
Newspapers, Magazines, Websites
Basic Facts about an Event or Topic
Newspapers, Primary Source Books or Web- Based Collections, Interviews
General Overview of the Topic
Books or Encyclopedias
Information about a Recent Topic
Websites, Newspapers, Magazines
Information from Professionals Working in the Field