Types of Sources
Scholarly sources are your most reliable sources of information. They are written by researchers for other researchers and students. A scholarly article will present original research in a well-reasoned and logical way.
Scholarly Sources typically:
Some databases also refer to them as peer-reviewed, academic, or referred. These are the types of resources you typically want to use when writing your paper, but they can be hard to read and understand if you haven’t done any background research. Most of your professors will require a certain number of scholarly sources for your papers so it’s important to understand what these sources look like and how to find them.
Professional or trade articles and books are written by practitioners in the field about best practices and new research in a field. They will often summarize original research done by a scholar and describe how the research will impact practices in the field.
Trade sources typically:
These sources are great for getting an idea of what’s going on in a field and what the newest research is so they are very helpful when doing background research. You can also use them to find additional articles as they often cite the more scholarly articles the writers used when creating the article. While these sources are typically considered to be scholarly, not all professors will consider them to be, so be sure to ask if you aren’t sure.
Newspapers, magazines, and non-academic books can be broken into two different categories, authoritative and popular.
Authoritative sources typically:
These sources aren’t considered scholarly, but are preferred by professors for your non-scholarly articles. When doing background research on a topic you are unfamiliar with, these types of sources are great at helping to introduce you to a topic and its jargon and help you understand its history and current issues.
The newspapers, magazines, and books in this category may be useful for background research, but are not appropriate for scholarly research.
Popular sources typically:
These sources are fun to read and may help you get interested in a topic, but they are not appropriate for college level research.
Websites and blogs can be reliable or unreliable, hoaxes or sincere misinformation. Researchers and other experts often use blogs as a way to share their knowledge with the general public, but anyone with computer access can do so too, to further any agenda they want. Online news sources are particularly notorious for false information. It's up to you to evaluate the quality of what you find online.
Reliable websites typically:
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