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How to Research: 5. Know Your Sources

Know Your Sources

Scholarly Sources

You will want to use scholarly sources in research papers and anytime you want verified facts and opinions supported by evidence. One type of scholarly source is peer-reviewed, meaning experts in the field have evaluated and approved the article before publication.

Opinion or editorials articles within scholarly journals are NOT scholarly!

Non-Scholarly Sources

Non-Scholarly sources can be used for finding best practices, current events, popular opinions, easy to understand summaries, and entertainment. These sources are usually not appropriate to use in research papers.

Types of Sources Handout

The PDF below includes an overview of each type of source in different formats. Consult this handout to easily determine whether a source is appropriate for your research paper.

Types of Formats

Each type of source can be found in a variety of formats, including journals, books, multimedia, and websites.

  Books/eBooks Journals/Articles Multimedia Websites
Good for background and context current research, studies, and specific topics interviews, news footage, images, etc. current data, interviews, museum artifacts, etc.
Find them using

Books

  • provide in-depth information about one topic
  • do not always have the most current information available
  • includes reference books, eBooks, eAudiobooks, etc.
  • can be accessed in print version or online (e-books)

More about book & reference resources

Journals/Articles

  • includes academic journals, magazines, and newspapers
  • published regularly: daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
  • provide current information and research
  • accessible in print or through library databases

More about periodical resources

Multimedia

  • includes documentary and feature films, podcasts, streaming video, etc.
  • can provide useful supplementary and visual information

More about multimedia resources

Websites

  • can include current information
  • must be carefully evaluated for reliability

More about Web resources

Primary Sources

For some research topics, you may want to cite original documents, interviews, artwork, artifacts, novels, poetry, or music. These are all primary sources, which were either created at the time of an event or created by a person who experienced an event. Primary sources offer a unique insight into a particular time or topic.

Examples of primary sources:

Letter

Email

Diary

Photo

Play

Pottery

Novel

Poetry

Autobiography

Financial record

Meeting minutes

Historical Account

Official records
(ex. Birth certificate)

Government documents

News recording

Newsletter

Speech

Newspaper

Magazine

Census data

Obituary

Interview

TV show

Advertisement

Music

Book

Political ads

Cars

Architecture

Film

Artwork

Furniture

Coins

Map

Clothing

Memoir

 

Find Primary Sources

Parts of a Scholarly Article

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Peer-Reviewed vs. Popular Periodicals

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