Answered By: Claire Sewell
Last Updated: Feb 24, 2016     Views: 25

Firstly, you need to decide what types of sources are required to complete your assignment.  Sources could be a book, peer-reviewed journal article, data or a newspaper article for example.  You may need to use more than one source to complete your assignment.  Below are some source terms you should familiarise yourself with:

Peer reviewed article: is written by an expert in the field.  The article is then reviewed by other experts or scholars in the same discipline.  Peer reviewed articles may also be called scholarly or refereed.  Many of the databases will have a filter to limit your search to peer reviewed articles.

Popular journals:  articles in popular journals such as Time, The Economist, and Newsweek tend to be written by non-specialists.  Articles will be reviewed by an editor, but not by a panel of experts.  Articles may not mention sources in the text.

Professional/trade article:  articles in professional or trade journals are targeted to a specific audience.  They will be written by experts in the field or staff writers.  Editors will review articles for style and format but may not be as thorough as editors for peer review titles.  Professional and trade journals generally contain industry-specific job notices, current news and industry related products.  Examples include British Journal of Nursing, Times Higher Educational Supplement, and History Today.

Primary source:  document or object created at the time being studied.  Often defined as ‘first-hand accounts”.  Examples include diaries, letters and newspaper articles.  Sources can also be artefacts’.

Secondary source:  provide background material and often analyse an event or work.  Examples include works literary criticism such as “Jane Austen's popular and critical reputation: a documentary volume” or analysis of a clinical trial.  Most academic books and articles are secondary sources.

Think about what types of source/evidence you need to answer your assignment.   Below are some 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 Books, newspapers
Eyewitness accounts Letters, diaries, newspapers, primary source books, web-based collection of primary sources
A general overview of a topic Books or encyclopaedia
Information about a very recent topic Websites, blogs, newspapers, magazines
Local information Newspapers, websites, books, maps
Information from professionals working in the field    Professional or trade journals