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SSI2-127: Hip-Hop Philosophy: Types of Sources

Types of Sources

In academic research, it's important to be able to distinguish between different types of sources.  These differences often are contextual, meaning that a single source might fit in different categories depending on how you are using it and in what academic discipline you are writing.

Primary sources are the raw materials of scholarship.

Secondary sources report on or interpret primary sources.

Tertiary sources synthesize and present overviews of primary and secondary sources.

Scholarly sources present sophisticated, researched arguments using both primary and secondary sources and are written by experts.

Popular sources aim to inform or entertain and are intended for a general, non-specialized audience.  In academic writing, popular sources most often are analyzed as primary sources.

Is it Scholarly?

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Here are some general guidelines to identify scholarly articles.


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Angela Weaver
Collins Library 131

Practice: What Type of Resource Is it?

Consider the sources below and determine whether they are popular, scholarly, primary or secondary.

  1. Jenkins, Toby S. "A Beautiful Mind: Black Male Intellectual Identity and Hip-Hop Culture." Journal of Black Studies 42, no. 8 (11, 2011): 1231-1251.
  2. Grigoriadis, Vanessa. "The Passion of Nicki Minaj." New York Times (Online), New York: New York Times Company. Oct 7, 2015.
  3. Adolph, Jessie L., Sr. "Dee-Jay Drop that "Deadbeat:" Hip-Hop's Remix of Fatherhood Narratives." Order No. 13877128, University of Missouri - Columbia, 2018.
  4. Harris, LaVonne R. "The Life of Tupac Shakur: A New Slave Narrative." Hyde Park Citizen, Oct 03, 1996.