Skip to Main Content

First-Year Research Guide

This guide provides resources on developing an inquiry question, finding background information, using the library catalog and databases, and developing a list of keyword terms

Video: Types of Sources

Identifying Scholarly Sources

  • Content:  Primary account of original research.  Each article provides an in-depth discussion of findings and methods. 
  • Author(s): Authors are experts in their field.  The authors are responsible for the research and experiments outlined in the article.
  • Credibility: Credentials are usually provided at the beginning of each article.  It will tell you what their expertise is and where they currently do research. 
  • Audience: Written for scientists, scholars, students, and researchers.
  • Language: Has high levels of specialized terminology used within the field that might require expertise to understand.   
  • References: Required!  The article will will be full of citations and references that can easily be verified. 

Identifying Popular Sources

  • Content: Secondary discussion of someone else's research.  Articles are usually brief and may include unsupported opinions.
  • Author(s): Author(s) are journalists writing as a career; they are paid for their content. Generally not experts in subject field, but may be members of the editorial staff, or free lance writers.
  • Credibility: Author's credentials are usually not provided.
  • Audience:  Geared for a general audience. There is no specialty assumed, only an interest in the subject matter.
  • Language: Written with commonly understandable vocabulary. Most people will easily understand the article.
  • Reference: Popular articles usually don't include a list of citations at the end. However, credible articles always name their sources.