In academic research, it's important to be able to distinguish between different types of sources. These differences often are contextual, meaning that the same source might fit in different categories depending on how you are using it, and within which academic discipline you're researching and 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.
At Collins Library, your questions are always welcome! Here are some ways you can continue to develop your research skills:
Research is a creative, nonlinear process. Experienced scholars will tell you that they rarely end up exactly where they thought they would when they first started out. You'll need to give yourself the time to pursue ideas, reconsider ideas in light of new information, and then craft an original, researched argument.
To be successful in college-level research, you will need to make use of the resources and services of the library. Here are a few reasons why:
BEAM is an acronym intended to help students think about the various ways we might use sources when writing a researched argument. Joseph Bizup, an English professor at Boston University, outlined the framework in a 2008 article. The idea has since been refined and adapted by many others.
Allie and Hannah are also available for individual appointments. Go to our Schedule a Research Appointment page, click the request button, and select either Hannah or Allie from the drop-down menu to see what appointment times they have available.