Consider the purpose of your sources.
Some common reasons you might use sources in your own work include:
Adapted from Yale College Writing Center's "Using Sources" webpage
Are certain types of sources are required or recommended 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 leave things more open-ended.
Consider the types of evidence needed to answer your research question or make your argument.
|Expert evidence||Scholarly articles, books, and statistical data|
|Public or individual opinion on an issue||Newspapers, magazines, and websites|
|Basic facts about an event||Newspapers, books, encyclopedias (for older and well-known events)|
|Eye-witness accounts||Newspapers, primary source books, web-based collection of primary sources|
|A general overview of a topic||Books or encyclopedias|
|Information about a very recent topic||Websites, newspapers, and magazines|
|Local information||Newspapers, websites, and books|
|Information from professionals working in the field||Professional/trade journals|
Common Terms for Source Types
Scholarly article: written by an expert in the field and reviewed by peers in the field, include references and have an academic style.
Note: In many databases, you can limit your search to scholarly, peer-reviewed or refereed journals.
Professional/trade article: published in trade or professional journals and written by experts in the field or by staff writers. These are mainly intended for professionals in a given field but are generally easier to read than most scholarly articles. While not considered 'scholarly,' they may still have useful information.
Examples: School Library Journal, Harvard Business Review, Engineering and Mining Journal, and American Biology Teacher.
Popular journals: written for a general audience
Examples: The New Yorker, People, and Rolling Stone
Primary source: created during the period being studied and provide first-hand evidence about an object, person, or event.
Examples: newspaper articles, government documents, letters, diaries, autobiographies, speeches, oral histories, museum artifacts, and photographs
Secondary source: created some time after an event has happened and interpret or analyze information from primary sources.
Examples: a book about World War II based on records from the time, a journal article about Chinese immigrants to Portland (Most books and articles are secondary sources.)
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