3 Primary Sources Firsthand information. Including but not limited to: films, artwork, literary works, eyewitness accounts, photographs, news, historical documents.The format of a primary source can change depending on your topic.Example: If you were writing a paper about the poem Beowulf, the poem itself would be your primary source. However, if you were writing a paper about the history of literary criticism about Beowulf, journal articles in which scholars analyze particular aspects of the poem would be your primary sources, when they would normally be secondary sources.
4 Secondary Sources Secondhand information. Including but not limited to: descriptions and interpretations of primary sources in various forms, biographies, encyclopedia articles.Example: If you were writing a paper about the poem Beowulf, a journal article in which a scholar analyzes a particular aspect of the poem would be a secondary source.
5 Scholarly SourcesAlso often known as academic sources because these are the sources you will be most often asked to use in an academic setting.These sources are usually connected with a university or similar institution, such as an academic journal.Authors will generally be identified with academic credentials in scholarly sources, and are usually considered experts in the field they are writing about.Scholarly sources tend to be longer than popular sources. Think about the length of a journal article versus a magazine article.
6 Popular SourcesAlso often known as non-academic sources. Be cautious when using these in an academic setting. Some professors do not allow the use of all or certain non-academic sources, and information from these sources may not always be reliable.Authors of popular sources are not necessarily experts.Popular sources tend to be shorter than scholarly sources. Think about the length of a magazine article versus a journal article.Popular sources can also be found online in the form of blogs, forum posts, and fansites, among other formats. This is rare for scholarly sources.
7 Books Generally a scholarly source. A good place to start looking for information. If you ignore books about your topic, you are doing yourself a disservice.You don’t have to use the whole book as a source. You can use just part of it.Books may have one author, multiple authors, a corporate author, or no author.You can also look at anthologies, reference works, books with multiple volumes, the introductions, prefaces, and afterwords of books.How to Find Books: Go to the library. You can use their website to find titles, or get help from a librarian. You can also do a quick search on Google, Amazon, or Goodreads to get started.Helpful Tips: In the library, books about topics are grouped together. Find one title you want, find it in the stacks, and then browse around it to see what other titles there are. Look at tables of contents to give you an idea of what you might be able to use.
8 ArticlesCan be a scholarly or a popular source, depending on the publication.For some topics, articles may be your primary source of information, especially if there are no books, or recent books, about your topic.Articles can be found in magazines and newspapers, and also academic journals. You can also look at reviews and editorials.How to Find Articles: Use the library databases. You can also perform a search using Google, and then narrow that search to Google Scholar, which will give you only scholarly sources.
9 Other Print SourcesYou can look at a variety of print sources depending on your topic. Think about sources like government publications, pamphlets, or dissertations and theses about particular topics.These sources will be relevant or not relevant depending on your topic. Talk to professors in your department for ideas about sources specialized to your field, if your topic is in that field.How to Find: Usually these kinds of sources will only be available in the library. You may need help navigating special sections, so don’t be afraid to ask a librarian for help.
10 Online SourcesCan be a scholarly or a popular source, depending on the circumstances.Your research cannot begin and end with online sources. Despite what you may have heard, not everything exists on the Internet. You will miss valuable resources if you don’t branch out.Online sources can include websites, s, blog posts, forum posts, and tweets, among other things. Think outside the box when you’re thinking about online sources to help you find information. What is useful to you will depend on your topic.How to Find: Google is your best friend in these cases.
11 Miscellaneous Sources Depending on your topic, think about other sources, such as images, interviews, lectures, speeches, artwork, movies, television, and music. These can be found in various places and could be helpful to you.How to Find: Look in places you might not think about when doing research, such as at museum websites or on streaming services like YouTube. You never know what you might find.Helpful Tips: If you’re concerned about whether or not something is a valid source, just ask me. There is a lot of information out there, so it can be a lot to deal with. Also, remember that even if you can’t use the initial source you find, whether because it isn’t useful or an assignment limits your ability to use popular sources, it may point you to other important sources.
12 Sources and Credibility Above all, your sources must be credible for your paper to hold up to academic scrutiny. How do you determine if a source is credible?Sources and Credibility
13 Publisher Credentials What do you know about the publisher of your source?Is it a well-known publisher? Is the author an expert in their field?What is the reputation of the publisher?Look For: Affiliation with a university or other trusted institution, usage of books or articles by universities, organizations with a long positive history.Helpful Tip: Google is your friend. Do a quick Google search on a publisher and see what comes up. This can give you a good idea of their history and credibility.
14 Author Credentials What do you know about the author of your source? Is the author a well-known expert in their field?What is the reputation of the author?Look For: A degree in the field the author is writing about, a history of writing articles or books about similar topics, current affiliation with a trusted university or similar organization.Helpful Tip: Again, Google is the best place to do a quick search on authors.
15 Date of PublicationGenerally speaking, you want the most recent sources, unless you’re working with a historical topic or looking at a topic in a historical way.You want to be especially aware of this if you are working with a topic that is quickly advancing, such as medicine or technology. Even an article that is only five years old might be obsolete.Helpful Tip: Start with sources that are less than ten years old. If you don’t have enough in that time frame, branch out slowly. Try to ignore those older sources, at least at first.
16 Peer-Reviewed Sources Credible academic articles are often peer-reviewed, which means that other scholars review and approve them. You can determine if an article is peer-reviewed in a variety of ways.Some catalogs and databases will identify that a source is peer- reviewed. Look for this designation.Look up the journal online. Even if you can’t access articles on the journal’s website, you should still be able to identify whether or not the journal is peer-reviewed.If an academic article is not peer-reviewed, steer yourself away from it. It is less likely to be credible.
17 Other Questions To AskDoes the source have a works cited? How thorough is it? This is a good indication of credibility. Look up a few of the sources in the works cited and see if they seem credible. Bibliographies are also great to mine for other sources for your own project.Have you seen a publisher, author, or particular source cited in other articles? If a source in a field is widely used, it’s probably credible.
19 In-Text Citations There are two ways you can cite in your paper. The first is through paraphrase. Paraphrasing is when you briefly summarize information from a source in your own words, and is a common way for synthesizing information for use in your paper.You still need to cite a source’s page numbers when you paraphrase.The second is exact quotation, when you use the exact words of a source in your paper.Exact quotation must be introduced in your own words. The quote itself should be encased in quotation marks. You need to cite the source’s page numbers when you use exact quotation.
20 In-Text CitationsIn exact quotation, you should only use the words of the quote that you absolutely need. You always want your own words to outnumber quotes in a paper. As a general guideline, think of 20% as the maximum amount of your paper that should be quotes.Avoid overly long quotes. Students sometimes like to throw in lots of long quotes to pad their word count, but that’s not going to work in your favor.
21 Works CitedEvery paper you write will need a Works Cited page that identifies all of the sources you’ve cited in your paper.Refer to your handbook and to the Purdue OWL link on the course website for help with in-text citations and the Works Cited page. This is not something you are expected to have memorized, but you do need to execute it correctly on your assignments.
22 Questions?Feel free to me with any questions you have about sources throughout the semester.