Answered By: Erin Mooney Last Updated: Apr 22, 2019 Views: 131
When you have a research assignment the first thing to do is to figure out what types of sources are required or allowed by your instructor. Some professors require you to use only scholarly peer-reviewed journals, primary sources, newspapers, or books from the library while others might be more flexible in the types of sources used. Here are some source terms you should be familiar with:
Scholarly article: Written by an expert in the field and reviewed by peers who are experts in the same area. In many databases, you can limit your search results to scholarly or peer-reviewed journals. Learn more about Peer-reviewed Articles.
Professional/trade article: Trade or professional journals have articles written by experts in the field OR by staff writers. The articles are only reviewed by editors for style, so they go through a less rigorous review process. The articles often do not contain reference lists. Examples include Harvard Business Review, Engineering and Mining Journal, and American Biology Teacher.
Popular journals: Written for a general audience rather than for professionals or scholars. Examples include The New Yorker, People, and Rolling Stone.
Primary source: An item that was created during the period being studied and documents in some way what is being studied. Examples include newspaper accounts, government documents, letters, diaries, autobiographies, speeches, oral histories, museum artifacts, photographs.
Secondary source: A source that is one step removed from an event and analyzes primary sources. Examples include a book about World War II that is based on records from the time, or a journal article about Korean immigrants to Georgia. Most books and articles are secondary sources.
Next, think about what types of evidence you need to answer your research question or make your case. This chart makes suggestions for specific types of resources for your research:
|If you need...||Try using...|
|Expert evidence||Scholarly articles, books, statistical data|
|Public or individual opinion on an issue||Newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs|
|Basic facts about an event||Newspapers and books|
Newspapers, primary source books, and
|A general overview of a topic||Books or encyclopedias|
|Information about a very recent topic||Websites, newspapers, magazines|
|Local information||Newspapers, websites, books|
|Information from professionals
working in the field
|Professional or trade journals|
Understanding the Information Cycle can help you recognize what types of sources are available on your topic too: