Answered By: Denise Crews
Last Updated: Oct 27, 2023     Views: 8

1. "Reference" sources means brief information found in encyclopedias, dictionaries, glossaries, etc. The library has many of these.

2. "Scholarly" sources means books, journal articles, and book chapters written by academic experts (also called "peer-reviewed" or checked by experts). Look for length, depth, originality, publisher, & extensive citations.  

3. "Popular" sources are non-academic sources like newspapers, magazines, and books you see in a bookstore.  These can be helpful to understand the latest events, ideas, and arguments on a topic.

4. There are also government sources and political think tanks (research organizations) that can give credible information, keeping in mind the possibility of political bias.  

5. Don't forget classic literature, pop culture, and other "primary" sources (historical documents, works of art, or artifacts that you interpret or use as evidence). 

Scripture is a primary source, as is any work by a philosopher, artist, or literary writer, or the text of a legal document like a Supreme Court decision. These sources hold authority and can be a powerful way to back up your argument. 

Here are some common sources of information and some of their uses:

Reference: Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

Useful for:

  • Overviews
  • Short biographies
  • Discovering key terms
  • Lists of sources (what they cited)

Individual Databases

Useful for finding:

  • articles
  • scholarly journals
  • magazines and newspapers
  • e-books
  • dissertations & theses

Primo Search

Useful for finding:

  • Books
  • E-Books
  • Videos
  • Articles
  • Reference Entries (brief info)

The Internet

Useful for finding:

  • opinion and news articles
  • background information on your topic
  • government publications
  • articles by think tanks, non-profits, & churches
  • open access (i.e. free) collections/archives

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