What Is a Primary Source?

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In research and academics, a primary source refers to information collected from sources that witnessed or experienced an event firsthand. These can be historical documents , literary texts, artistic works, experiments, journal entries, surveys, and interviews. A primary source, which is very different from a secondary source , is also called primary data.

The Library of Congress defines primary sources as "the raw materials of history—original documents and objects which were created at the time under study," in contrast to secondary sources , which are "accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience," ("Using Primary Sources").

Secondary sources are often meant to describe or analyze a primary source and do not give firsthand accounts; primary sources tend to provide more accurate depictions of history but are much harder to come by.

Characteristics of Primary Sources

There are a couple of factors that can qualify an artifact as a primary source. The chief characteristics of a primary source, according to Natalie Sproull, are: "(1) [B]eing present during the experience, event or time and (2) consequently being close in time with the data. This does not mean that data from primary sources are always the best data."

Sproull then goes on to remind readers that primary sources are not always more reliable than secondary sources. "Data from human sources are subject to many types of distortion because of such factors as selective recall, selective perceptions, and purposeful or nonpurposeful omission or addition of information. Thus data from primary sources are not necessarily accurate data even though they come from firsthand sources," (Sproull 1988).

Original Sources

Primary sources are often called original sources, but this is not the most accurate description because you're not always going to be dealing with original copies of primary artifacts. For this reason, "primary sources" and "original sources" should be considered separate. Here's what the authors of "Undertaking Historical Research in Literacy," from Handbook of Reading Research , have to say about this:

"The distinction also needs to be made between primary and original sources . It is by no means always necessary, and all too often it is not possible, to deal only with original sources. Printed copies of original sources, provided they have been undertaken with scrupulous care (such as the published letters of the Founding Fathers), are usually an acceptable substitute for their handwritten originals." (E. J. Monaghan and D. K. Hartman, "Undertaking Historical Research in Literacy," in Handbook of Reading Research , ed. by P. D. Pearson et al. Erlbaum, 2000)

When to Use Primary Sources

Primary sources tend to be most useful toward the beginning of your research into a topic and at the end of a claim as evidence, as Wayne Booth et al. explain in the following passage. "[Primary sources] provide the 'raw data' that you use first to test the working hypothesis and then as evidence to support your claim . In history, for example, primary sources include documents from the period or person you are studying, objects, maps, even clothing; in literature or philosophy, your main primary source is usually the text you are studying, and your data are the words on the page. In such fields, you can rarely write a research paper  without using primary sources," (Booth et al. 2008).

When to Use Secondary Sources

There is certainly a time and place for secondary sources and many situations in which these point to relevant primary sources. Secondary sources are an excellent place to start. Alison Hoagland and Gray Fitzsimmons write: "By identifying basic facts, such as year of construction, secondary sources can point the researcher to the best primary sources , such as the right tax books. In addition, a careful reading of the bibliography in a secondary source can reveal important sources the researcher might otherwise have missed," (Hoagland and Fitzsimmons 2004).

Finding and Accessing Primary Sources

As you might expect, primary sources can prove difficult to find. To find the best ones, take advantage of resources such as libraries and historical societies. "This one is entirely dependent on the assignment given and your local resources; but when included, always emphasize quality. ... Keep in mind that there are many institutions such as the Library of Congress that make primary source material freely available on the Web," (Kitchens 2012).

Methods of Collecting Primary Data

Sometimes in your research, you'll run into the problem of not being able to track down primary sources at all. When this happens, you'll want to know how to collect your own primary data; Dan O'Hair et all tell you how: "If the information you need is unavailable or hasn't yet been gathered, you'll have to gather it yourself. Four basic methods of collecting primary data are field research, content analysis, survey research, and experiments. Other methods of gathering primary data include historical research, analysis of existing statistics, ... and various forms of direct observation," (O'Hair et al. 2001).

  • Booth, Wayne C., et al. The Craft of Research . 3rd ed., University of Chicago Press, 2008.
  • Hoagland, Alison, and Gray Fitzsimmons. "History."  Recording Historic Structures. 2nd. ed., John Wiley & Sons, 2004.
  • Kitchens, Joel D. Librarians, Historians, and New Opportunities for Discourse: A Guide for Clio's Helpers . ABC-CLIO, 2012.
  • Monaghan, E. Jennifer, and Douglas K. Hartman. "Undertaking Historical Research in Literacy." Handbook of Reading Research. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002.
  • O'Hair, Dan, et al. Business Communication: A Framework for Success . South-Western College Pub., 2001.
  • Sproull, Natalie L. Handbook of Research Methods: A Guide for Practitioners and Students in the Social Sciences. 2nd ed. Scarecrow Press, 1988.
  • "Using Primary Sources." Library of Congress .
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Primary Sources Guide

Understanding research sources.

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  • What are Primary Sources?
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A primary source is a first-hand account from a person or organization who:

  • Created an original work
  • Participated in new scientific discoveries
  • Witnessed an event

Some examples of primary sources include:

  • Art and artifacts
  • Autobiographies, diaries, and memoirs
  • Interviews and oral histories
  • Novels and poetry
  • Photographs
  • Data and surveys

Why are primary sources useful?  Primary sources are useful to:

  • Observe and analyze an event from an eyewitness perspective
  • Develop your own opinions and explanations
  • Learn if you agree or disagree with the authors of secondary/tertiary sources and their conclusions

A secondary source has the following qualities:

  • It comments on or analyzes something
  • It often summarizes or interprets primary sources
  • It's usually written by someone who was not directly involved or an eyewitness

Some examples of secondary sources include:

  • Analysis or criticism, such as literary criticism
  • Biographies
  • Essays and reviews

Why are secondary sources useful? Secondary sources are useful because they:

  • Help you consider diverse viewpoints about a topic
  • Organize and outline information in an approachable way
  • Offer information and analysis from experts

Remember, secondary sources are often based on studying and analyzing primary sources . Another way to think about it? Your research paper is a secondary source because you're analyzing and interpreting other sources.

A tertiary source has the following qualities:

  • It lists and compiles information without additional analysis
  • It repackages important ideas and information from other primary and secondary sources

Some examples of tertiary sources include:

  • Directories of local, state, and national organizations
  • Encyclopedias and dictionaries
  • Guidebooks and handbooks

Why are tertiary sources useful? Tertiary sources are useful because they help you:

  • Gather background information about a topic or concept
  • Find a variety of information in one source
  • Provide information in a concise and compact way

Examples of Primary Sources vs. Other Sources

  • Communications

One area of study at Central Piedmont where primary sources are often used is History . Here are some examples:

  • Primary Source = Autobiography :  Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave by Frederick Douglass
  • Secondary Source = Biography :  Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight

is research paper primary source

Another area of study at Central Piedmont where primary sources often come into play is English . Here are some examples:

  • Primary Source = Novel :  Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
  • Secondary Source = Literary Criticism :  Gabriel García Márquez in Retrospect: A Collection Book , edited by Gene H. Bell-Villada

is research paper primary source

One other area of study at Central Piedmont where primary sources often come into play is Communications . Here are some examples:

  • Primary Sources = Memoir :  Deaf Utopia: A Memoir--And a Love Letter to a Way of Life  by Nyle DiMarco
  • Secondary Sources = Journal Article : "Curriculum and Instruction for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students: Evidence from the Past—Considerations for the Future" (2023) by Maria C. Hartman, Elaine R. Smolen, and Brynne Powell
  • Tertiary Sources = Reference Book :  American Sign Language: A Step-by-Step Guide to Signing by Suzie Chafin

is research paper primary source

Credit : Austin Community College's Primary Sources guide served as the inspiration and model for this LibGuide.

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Library Research Guide for the History of Science: Introduction

  • What is a Primary Source?
  • Senior Theses 2023
  • Background and Context/Biography
  • Exploring Your Topic
  • Using HOLLIS
  • What is a Secondary Source?

Page Contents

Knowing a primary source when you see one, kinds of primary sources, find primary sources in hollis, using digital libraries and collections online, using bibliographies.

  • Exploring the Special Collections at Harvard
  • Citing Sources & Organizing Research

Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented.

Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later.

Primary sources are characterized by their content, regardless of the format available. (Handwritten notes could be published; the published book might be digitized or put on microfilm, but those notes are still primary sources in any format).

Some types of primary sources:

  • Original documents (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, contemporary newspaper articles, autobiographies, official records, pamphlets, meeting notes, photographs, contemporary sketches
  • Creative works : Poetry, drama, novels, music, art 
  • Relics or artifacts : Furniture, clothing, buildings

Examples of primary sources include:

  • A poster from the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters' 1962 strike
  • The papers of William James
  • A 1970 U.S. State Dept document updating Nixon on U.S.-Soviet space cooperation activities (Harvard login)
  • A British pamphlet: "Electric Lighting for Country Houses," 1898
  • Phineas Gage's skull
  • The text of J. Robert Oppenheimer's "Atomic Weapons" presentation to the American Philosophical Society

Outline of Primary Sources for History

Archives and Manuscripts

Archives and manuscripts are the unpublished records of persons (letters, notes, diaries, etc.) and organizations. What are Archives?   Usually each archival collection has a (short) catalog record and a detailed finding aid (which is often available online).

  • "Catalog record” refers to the kind of record found in library online catalogs, similar to those for books, although often a bit longer. Example of an Archive record .
  • “Finding aid” (sometimes called an inventory) generally refers to a list of the folder labels for the collection, accompanied by a brief collection overview (scope and contents note) and a biographical (or institutional) note on the creator of the collection.  Finding aids may be as long as needed given the size of the collection.  They vary considerably according to the practices of individual repositories. Example of a Finding aid .

To find  Archives and manuscripts  at Harvard, go to  HOLLIS Advanced search .  Search your keywords or Subject terms (see the  HOLLIS page of this guide ) in the Library Catalog, limiting to Resource Type: Archives/Manuscripts.  You can choose the library at the right (Search Scope).  Countway  Medicine has abundant medical archives, and Schlesinger has many archives of women activists, many in health and reproductive rights fields.    Sample search on Subject: Women health .

Library Research Guide for Finding Manuscripts and Archival Collections explains

  • How to find archives and manuscripts at Harvard
  • How to find archives and manuscripts elsewhere in US via search tools and via subject guides .
  • How to find archives and manuscripts in Europe and elsewhere.
  • Requesting digitization of archival material from Harvard and from other repositories .

For digitized archival material together with other kinds of primary sources:

  • Finding Primary Sources Online offers general instructions for finding primary sources online and a list of resources by region and country
  • Online Primary Source Collections for the History of Science lists digital collections at Harvard and beyond by topic.
  • Online Primary Source Collections for History lists digital collections at Harvard and beyond by topic.

Methods for finding books are described under the HOLLIS page  of this guide and in the Finding Primary Sources in HOLLIS box on this page. 

  • Book Reviews may give an indication as to how a scientific work was received. See:   Finding Book Reviews . 
  • Numerous, especially pre-1923 books (as well as periodicals and other sources) can be found and full text searched in several digital libraries (see box on this page).

Periodicals

Scientific articles :

Web of Science Citation Indexes (Harvard Login)  (1900- ) articles in all areas of science. Includes medical articles not in PubMed. You can use the Cited Reference search in the Web of Science to find primary source articles that cite a specified article, thus getting an idea of its reception. More information on the Web of Science .

PubMed (1946- ) covers, usually with abstracts, periodical articles on all areas of medicine. - --Be sure to look at the MeSH (Medical Subject Headings)  at the bottom of pertinent records. Very recent articles may not as yet received their MeSH terms.  So look at older records to find the MeSH terms, and use a variety of keywords as well as MeSH terms to find the new records. --​The MeSH terms are the same as the Medical Subject terms found in HOLLIS. --Hit Free article or Try Harvard Library, not the publisher's name to see full text

JSTOR (Harvard Login)  offers full-text of complete runs (up to about 5 years ago) of over 400 journals. JSTOR allows simultaneous or individual searching, full-text searching optional, numerous journals in a variety of fields of science and medicine. See the list at the bottom of the Advanced search screen. JSTOR searches the "Notes and News" sections of journals ( Science is especially rich in this material). In Advanced Search choose Item Type: Miscellaneous to limit largely to "Notes and News".

PsycINFO) (Harvard Login)  (1872- ) indexes the professional and academic literature in psychology and related disciplines

Many more scientific periodical indexes are listed in the Library Research Guide for the History of Science .

General interest magazines and periodicals see:

American Periodicals Series Online (Harvard Login)  (1740-1900) offers full text of about 1100 American periodicals. Includes several scientific and medical journals including the American Journal of Science and the Medical Repository. In cases where a periodical started before 1900, coverage is included until 1940.

British Periodicals (Harvard Login)  (1681-1920) offers full text for several hundred British periodicals.

Ethnic NewsWatch (Harvard Login)  (1959- ) is a full text database of the newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press.

Periodicals Index Online (Harvard Login)  indexes contents of thousands of US and European journals in the humanities and social sciences, from their first issues to 1995.

Reader's Guide Retrospective (WilsonWeb) (Harvard Login)  (1890-1982)  indexes many American popular periodicals.

Many more general periodical indexes are listed in Finding Articles in General and Popular Periodicals (North America and Western Europe) .

Articles in non-science fields (religion, public policy): see the list in the Library Research Guide for History .

Professional/Trade : Aimed at particular trades or professions.  See the Library Research Guide for History

Newspaper articles : see the Guide to Newspapers and Newspaper Indexes .

Personal accounts . These are first person narratives recalling or describing a person’s life and opinions. These include Diaries, memoirs, autobiographies, and when delivered orally and recorded: Oral histories and Interviews.

National Library of Medicine Oral Histories

Regulatory Oral History Hub  (Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University) offers links to digital collections containing interviews with regulators, lawyers, and judges. Mainly U.S.

Visual sources :

Records for many, but by no means all, individual Harvard University Library images are available in  HOLLIS Images , an online catalog of images. Records include subjects and a thumbnail image.  HOLLIS Images is included in HOLLIS  searches.

Science & Society Picture Library offers over 50,000 images from the Science Museum (London), the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television and the National Railway Museum.

Database of Scientific Illustrators  (DSI) includes over 12500 illustrators in natural history, medicine, technology and various sciences worldwide, c.1450-1950. Living illustrators excluded. 

NYPL Digital Gallery Pictures of Science: 700 Years of Scientific and Medical Illustration

Images from the History of Medicine (IHM) includes prints and photographs from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. (The IHM is contained within a larger NLM image database, so this link goes to a specialized search).

Images From the History of the Public Health Service: a Photographic Exhibit .

Wellcome Images

Films/Videos

To find films in  HOLLIS , search your topic keywords, then on the right side of the results screen, look at Resource Type and choose video/film.

To find books about films about your topic, search your topic keywords AND "in motion pictures" ​  (in "")

​Film Platform  offers numerous documentary films on a wide variety of subjects.  There are collections on several topics. Searches can be filtered by topic, country of production, and language. 

A list of general sources for images and film is available in the Library Research Guide for History and additional sources for the history of science in Library Research Guide for the History of Science .

Government documents often concern matters of science and health policy.  For Congressional documents, especially committee reports, see ProQuest Congressional (Harvard Login ). 

HathiTrust Digital Library . Each full text item is linked to a standard library catalog record, thus providing good metadata and subject terms. The catalog can be searched separately.  Many government documents are full text viewable.  Search US government department as Author.

More sources are listed in the Library Research Guide for History

For artifacts and other objects , the Historic Scientific Instruments Collection in the Science Center includes over 15,000 instruments, often with contemporary documentation, from 1450 through the 20th century worldwide.

Waywiser, online database of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments .

Warren Anatomical Museum of the Center for the History of Medicine in the Countway Library of Medicine has a rich collection of medical artifacts and specimens.

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

Fall 2020: these collections are closed during the pandemic. Check out their links above to see what they have available online.

Primary Source Terms :

You can limit HOLLIS  searches to your time period, but sources may be published later, such as a person's diary published posthumously. Find these with these special Subject terms.

You can use the following terms to search HOLLIS for primary sources:

  • Correspondence
  • Description and travel
  • Manuscripts
  • Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc.
  • Personal narratives (refers to accounts of wars and diseases only)
  • Pictorial works
  • Sources (usually refers to collections of published primary sources)

Include these terms with your topical words in HOLLIS searches. For example: tuberculosis personal narratives

Online Primary Source Collections for the History of Science lists digital collections at Harvard and beyond by topic

Google Book Search, HathiTrust Digital Library and Internet Archives offer books and periodicals digitized from numerous libraries.  Only out-of-copyright, generally post-1923, books are fully viewable.  Each of these three digital libraries allows searching full text over their entire collections.

Google Book Search

HathiTrust Digital Library . Each full text item is linked to a standard library catalog record, thus providing good metadata and subject terms. The catalog can be searched separately.  Many post-1923 out-of-copyright books, especially government documents, are full text viewable. You can search within copyright books to see what page your search term is on.

Internet Archive now offers a beta full text search. Put your terms (phrases or personal names, in quotation marks (""), work best) in the search box. 

The Online Books Page arranges electronic texts by Library of Congress call numbers and is searchable (but not full text searchable).  Includes books not in Google Books, HathiTrust, or Internet Archive. Has many other useful features.

Medical Heritage Library . Information about the Medical Heritage Library. Now searchable full text.

UK Medical Heritage Library

Biodiversity Heritage Library

Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics (1493-1922) provides digitized historical, manuscript, and image resources selected from Harvard University libraries and archives.

Expeditions and Discoveries (1626-1953) features nine expeditions in anthropology and archaeology, astronomy, botany, and oceanography in which Harvard University played a significant role. Includes manuscripts and records, published materials, visual works, and maps from 14 Harvard repositories.

Defining Gender Online: Five Centuries of Advice Literature for Men and Women (1450-1910).

Twentieth Century Advice Literature: North American Guides on Race, Sex, Gender, and the Family.

Many more general History digital libraries and collections: Library Research Guide for History

More History of Science digital libraries: Library Research Guide for the History of Science .

There may already be a detailed list of sources (a bibliography) for your topic.

For instance:

A bibliography of eugenics , by Samuel J. Holmes ... Berkeley, Calif., University of California press, 1924, 514 p. ( University of California publications in zoology . vol. XXV)  Full text online .

Look for specialized subject bibliographies in HOLLIS Catalog . Example .   WorldCat can do similar searches in the Subject Keyword field for non-Harvard holdings.

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Introduction to primary source research, definitions, examples of primary sources by discipline, head of bancroft public services.

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Letter from Carleton Watkins to George Davidson

A primary source is an eyewitness account of an event or data obtained through original statistical or scientific research. 

What are some examples of primary sources?

  • Photographs
  • Official records (government reports, transcripts, court records, death certificates, etc.)
  • Contemporary news reports (newspapers, telecasts, radio addresses, etc.)
  • Polls and Public Opinion Data
  • Laws, statutes, hearings

Secondary Source

A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may include pictures of primary sources or quotes from them. Some types of secondary sources include: journal/magazine articles, textbooks, commentaries, and encyclopedias.

Newspapers may be either primary or secondary. Most articles in newspapers are secondary, but reporters may be considered as witnesses to an event.  Any topic on the media coverage of an event or phenomenon would treat newspapers as a primary source. 

Source: https://guides.libraries.indiana.edu/primarysources

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Information

Primary sources.

  • What is a Primary Source
  • Locating Primary Source Materials
  • Using Primary Sources
  • Digital Primary Sources
  • Historic Newspapers
  • Historic Census Data and Statistics

What is a Primary Source?

Examples of Primary Sources

Definition of Primary Sources:  

A primary source is a piece of evidence created during the time you are studying. These sources offer an eye-witness view of a particular event. They can be any type of format, as long as you as the researcher are looking for the source's context: Who made this, and what was their perspective? What other sources describe the same events? Whose perspective isn't represented, and where can you find it? What was the world like when this thing was made? With primary sources, you will ask a lot of questions!

Some common types of records used as primary sources include:

  • Original Documents , including eyewitness accounts or the first record of events such as diaries, speeches, letters, manuscripts, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, or official records
  • Creative Works such as literature, music, art, film, etc.
  • Relics or Artifacts such as pottery, furniture, clothing, and buildings
  • Data from original research whether statistical or scientific

Remember: you have to find context for your primary sources.

What is a Secondary Source?

Definition of a secondary source:.

A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them. Some common types of secondary sources include:

  • A journal/magazine article which interprets or reviews previous findings 
  • A history textbook 
  • A book about the effects of WWI 
  • Biographies
  • Encyclopedia articles

Remember: a secondary source is making an argument based on research from other primary and secondary sources.

Primary Sources by Discipline

Different academic disciplines have different definitions of what constitutes a primary source:.

In the Humanities (history, literature, religion), primary sources focus on original documents or accounts contemporary to a specific event or an individual’s life. Terms such as “eyewitness” or “firsthand” are also commonly used to describe these sources. Autobiographical accounts written at a later date are also considered primary sources. Letters, diaries, journal entries, public records as well as contemporaneous newspapers articles offer solid examples of this type of primary source. Fictional works such as short stories or novels written during that specific time period constitute primary documents, too.

In the Arts (art, dance, music, theatre), primary sources are as diverse as the various disciplines in the category. They may include paintings, sculpture, prints, performances, video or audio recordings, scripts, or musical scores. Social Sciences (psychology, sociology, education) place a heavy emphasis on unanalyzed data sets as primary sources. Numerical data sets such as census figures, opinion polls, surveys or interview transcripts constitute this type of raw, uninterpreted data. A researcher’s field notes are also primary sources in the social sciences. In the Sciences (biology, ecology, chemistry), primary source documents focus on original research, ideas, or findings published in academic journals. These articles mark the first publication of such research; and they detail the researcher’s methodology and results. Plant or mineral samples and other artifacts are primary sources as well.

In STEM fields , primary sources may include papers or proceedings from scientific conferences; journal articles sharing original research, technical reports, patents, lab notes, and researcher correspondence or diaries.

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Is it a primary source?

Are you using a primary source?

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Primary or Secondary?

Primary Resources Presentation Slides

Primary vs. secondary sources, differentiating primary and secondary sources in each discipline.

While primary sources offer a firsthand account, secondary sources are written after the fact. Secondary sources analyze, interpret, explain, or analyze a primary source, event or individual. These resources represent a second publication cycle, tasked with presenting an argument or to persuade the reader.

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This is introductory description of what can be considered a primary source for the purposes of a research paper. Students and faculty have access to a wide range of primary source databases. It is highly recommended that student contact a liaison librarian for a research consultation when undertaking a research project using these sources. See the link below to set up a consult:

  • Schedule a Research Consultation

There are many resources for primary source materials at Marquette. Physical examples of these include newspaper microfilms, government or non-profit reports, reproductions of historical documents or text, and published diaries or autobiographies. The link below connects to digitized primary sources databases that can accessed by Marquette students and faculty. Please use the research consultation link above for guidance on any of these materials. 

  • Primary source digital collections at Marquette Primary source sigital collections are databases where the bulk of materials are documents and objects that provide first-hand documentation of events. Follow this link to view primary source digital collections at the library catalog where you can find database descriptions and links to connect to the databases themselves.
  • Historical publication digital collection at Marquette Historical publication digital collections are databases where the bulk of their materials are printed texts published before 1900. Follow this link to view historical publication digital collections at the library catalog where you can find database descriptions and links to connect to the databases themselves.

A primary source is a first-hand or contemporary account of an event. Primary sources date to the time an event took place and offer original account or thoughts on a topic that has not been framed by second-hand interpretation. Primary sources are usually original materials, but they may be reproduced digitally or republished in a physical format.  

This guide from Fresno State University can help you determine if something is a Primary Source.  If you answer 'yes' to any of the following questions, the resource is most like a Primary Source. 

  • Did the author personally witness or experience the subject in question?
  • Does the author know about this subject because of personal experience rather than having just read about it?
  • Is this source a diary, letter, memoir, autobiography, oral history, or interview of a person with first hand experience of the subject?
  • Is this source an official document or record published at the time of the event by the government, courts, or another organization?
  • Is this source a newspaper or magazine article written at the time of the event?
  • Is this a creative work such as a novel, poem, art or music piece created by a firsthand witness of the subject in question?
  • Is this an excerpt from a primary source, such as the constitution or a letter written by a Civil War soldier that has been imbedded in a secondary source, such as a textbook? Remember, secondary sources may include reprints of primary sources.
  • Is this an artifact or relic such as jewelry, pottery, clothing, music, art, architecture, dance or weaponry that was used by witnesses of the subject in question?
  • Is this a compilation of raw scientific data or statistics, such as census statistics published by the U.S. Census Bureau, that is being published without commentary or interpretation?
  •  newspapers or other news accounts
  •  personal accounts in diaries, letters, interviews, or oral histories
  •  government documents or publications
  •  speeches
  •  photographs/ video footage
  •  internal organizational documents
  •  memoirs or autobiographies
  •  novels, poems, or other works of art

Please note that, in the correct context, many things that are typically considered to be Secondary Sources - such as autobiographies or books about an event or historical period - can also be considered primary sources. For example, if you are writing an analysis of how historians have viewed a certain event over time, written histories on the event can be used as primary sources. 

  • Last Updated: Apr 17, 2024 4:31 PM
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Research Paper: A step-by-step guide: 4. Appropriate Sources

  • 1. Getting Started
  • 2. Topic Ideas
  • 3. Thesis Statement & Outline
  • 4. Appropriate Sources
  • 5. Search Techniques
  • 6. Taking Notes & Documenting Sources
  • 7. Evaluating Sources
  • 8. Citations & Plagiarism
  • 9. Writing Your Research Paper

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What Source Should You Use?

What type of information do you need.

The type of sources you might need for your research will depend on the type of research you are conducting. Familiarizing yourself with various types of sources will help you with both your current paper and future research. Below you will find a quick overview of common types of resources that will help you navigate how best to choose sources for your research.

 Broad categories of information and where you can find them can be broken down into the following areas:

  • Background or introductory information - dictionaries or encyclopedias as found in Gale eBooks
  • General information - history or overview - try books from the library catalog
  • News and current events - newspapers and current periodicals - try NewsBank  or the New York Times
  • Scholarly information - scholarly journal articles in databases
  • Discipline specific information - discipline specific databases

Scholarly Resources

Scholarly resources (sometimes called academic resources) have the following qualities:

  • Written by experts with credentials or affiliations (PhD, M.D.)
  • Written for other experts - each work is a voice in an ongoing conversation
  • Scholarly language - technical, discipline specific vocabulary
  • Verifiable and reliable evidence - look for citations
  • Peer reviewed - editorial process where other experts review and assess information 

Peer review is an important process in scholarly communication. The process of peer review is supposed to ensure that corrections are made to an article before publication, holding the article's content to a higher standard. 

Scholarly journals are the main publication format for scholarly research. Most scholarly journals are available for students online and are accessible through library databases. Find out more about library databases below. 

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Resources

Sometimes you will be asked to find resources categorized as primary, secondary, or tertiary resources. For historical research, the library has an excellent guide, Understanding Historical Sources ,  breaking down these types of resources and where you can find them. 

It should be noted that a primary source in the scientific disciplines looks a little different than a primary historical source. Put simply, a primary source in the sciences would be the original research, data, or material that forms the basis for other research. For example, the first time research about a new scientific discovery is published would be the primary source. A paper that analyzes or interprets the original research would be a secondary source. A tertiary source would collect and summarize the information from both the primary and secondary sources. 

Choosing a Resource

The library has many way to help you narrow down what source to use for your research.

  • Contact a librarian by email at [email protected]
  • Get individualized help from a subject librarian 
  • Check out our list of subject research guides
  • Watch a video tutorial on one of our specific databases

Choosing the Best Database for Your Project

You will learn about search techniques in a later step of the research process. But for now you can watch a quick video that will help you determine how to choose the best database for your project . 

  • << Previous: 3. Thesis Statement & Outline
  • Next: 5. Search Techniques >>
  • Last Updated: Apr 18, 2023 12:12 PM
  • URL: https://butte.libguides.com/ResearchPaper

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Primary Sources: What They Are and Where to Find Them

What is a primary source.

  • Finding Primary Sources in the UWRF Library

A primary source is an original object or document created during the time under study.   Primary sources vary by discipline and can include historical and legal documents, diaries, letters, family records, speeches, interviews, autobiographies, film, government documents, eye witness accounts, results of an experiment, statistical data, pieces of creative writing, and art objects. In the natural and social sciences, the results of an experiment or study are typically found in scholarly articles or papers delivered at conferences, so those articles and papers that present the original results are considered primary sources.  

A secondary source is something written about a primary source. Secondary sources include comments on, interpretations of, or discussions about the original material. You can think of secondary sources as second-hand information. If I tell you something, I am the primary source. If you tell someone else what I told you, you are the secondard source. Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that evaluate or criticize someone else's original research.

Research versus Review

Scientific and other peer reviewed journals are excellent sources for primary research sources. However, not every article in those journals will be an article with original research. Some will include book reviews and other materials that are more obviously secondary sources . More difficult to differentiate from original research articles are review articles . Both types of articles will end with a list of References (or Works Cited). Review articles are often as lengthy or even longer that original research articles. What the authors of review articles are doing is analysing and evaluating current research or investigations related to a specific topic, field, or problem. They are not primary sources since they review previously published material. They can be helpful for identifying potentially good primary sources, but they aren't primary themselves. Primary research articles can be identified by a commonly used format. If an article contains the following elements, you can count on it being a primary research article. Look for sections entitled Methods (sometimes with variations, such as Materials and Methods), Results (usually followed with charts and statistical tables), and Discussion . You can also read the abstract to get a good sense of the kind of article that is being presented. If it is a review article instead of a research article, the abstract should make that clear. If there is no abstract at all, that in itself may be a sign that it is not a primary resource. Short research articles, such as those found in Science and similar scientific publications that mix news, editorials, and forums with research reports, may not include any of those elements. In those cases look at the words the authors use, phrases such as "we tested," "we used," and "in our study, we measured" will tell you that the article is reporting on original research.

Primary or Secondary: You Decide

The distinction between types of sources can get tricky, because a secondary source may also be a primary source. DoVeanna Fulton's book on slave narratives, for example, can be looked at as both a secondary and a primary source. The distinction may depend on how you are using the source and the nature of your research. If you are researching slave narratives, the book would be a secondary source because Fulton is commenting on the narratives. If your assignment is to write a book review of Speaking Power , the book becomes a primary source, because you are commenting, evaluating, and discussing DoVeanna Fulton's ideas.

You can't always determine if something is primary or secondary just because of the source it is found in. Articles in newspapers and magazines are usually considered secondary sources. However, if a story in a newspaper about the Iraq war is an eyewitness account, that would be a primary source. If the reporter, however, includes additional materials he or she has gathered through interviews or other investigations, the article would be a secondary source. An interview in the Rolling Stone with Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes would be a primary source, but a review of the latest Black Crowes album would be a secondary source. In contrast, scholarly journals include research articles with primary materials, but they also have review articles that are not, or in some disciplines include articles where scholars are looking at primary source materials and coming to new conclusions.

For your thinking and not just to confuse you even further, some experts include tertiary sources as an additional distinction to make. These are sources that compile or, especially, digest other sources. Some reference materials and textbooks are considered tertiary sources when their chief purpose is to list or briefly summarize or, from an even further removed distance, repackage ideas. This is the reason that you may be advised not to include an encyclopedia article in a final bibliography.

The above material was adapted from the excellent explanation written by John Henderson found on Ithaca College's library website http://www.ithacalibrary.com/sp/subjects/primary and is used with permission.

  • Next: Finding Primary Sources in the UWRF Library >>
  • Last Updated: Nov 8, 2023 3:51 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.uwrf.edu/primarysources

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Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research

(48 reviews)

is research paper primary source

Cheryl Lowry, Ohio State University

Copyright Year: 2016

Publisher: Ohio State University Libraries

Language: English

Formats Available

Conditions of use.

Attribution

Learn more about reviews.

Reviewed by Elbert Davis, Assistant Professor, Marshall University on 10/24/21

The author does an incredible job in explaining the research process, from choosing a research question to how to search for sources (and citing those sources), and more. There are relevant self-check quizzes throughout the book to check for... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 5 see less

The author does an incredible job in explaining the research process, from choosing a research question to how to search for sources (and citing those sources), and more. There are relevant self-check quizzes throughout the book to check for understanding, along with other supplemental resources. As the book was published through The Ohio State University, some of the sources are only available to OSU students, but the author makes it clear when this is the case.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

The author did an excellent job with the accuracy of the book, Two specific examples that stood out: taking care to mention that Wikipedia is a great as a starting point, but not as an endpoint for research. Lowry also clearly explained that educational use did not automatically mean fair use, which seems to be an issue with students and faculty alike.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

The book should remain relevant in years to come, as academic research seems to follow the same basic pattern. The only issue would be if The Ohio State University changes the links used in the book, although I expect these to be easy to update. The book would still be able to be used without the supplemental links though.

Clarity rating: 5

The book seems to be targeting an introductory audience. Lowry does a great job of breaking down the jargon of academic research into plain English for the beginning researcher.

Consistency rating: 5

I thought the author used approprate terminology for a student learning about academic research.

Modularity rating: 5

The book is designed into specific chapters for the different aspects of choosing a source. While there are specific sections devoted to The Ohio State University library, I would not expect to have any trouble assigning the other chapters in my courses.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

The author started at the beginning, with how to design a research question before going into choosing a source, which gave good background knowledge.

Interface rating: 5

The contents of the book were clean and crisp. No distortions were noted. Navigation from the table of contents was easy.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

No grammatical errors were noted.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

Nothing offensive was in the book.

I have a difficult time in getting beginning graduate student to understand the different types of sources and fair use. I think using most chapters of this book would help a great deal in that comprehension.

Reviewed by Kelly LeFave, Instructor, Portland Community College on 6/15/21

This student friendly overview of academic research, including a strong focus on information literacy, covers many of the salient points that college level writing and writing for research classes curricula contain, making it a strong choice as a... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

This student friendly overview of academic research, including a strong focus on information literacy, covers many of the salient points that college level writing and writing for research classes curricula contain, making it a strong choice as a comprehensive and useful overview. Chapters include enough depth of coverage to make the leap from information to practice for students; self-directed activities are provided to check knowledge, work through concept applications, and offer more specifics. The book provides an easy-to-navigate Table of Contents, but an Index and Glossary do not seem to be available.

Content Accuracy rating: 4

Some errors appear that a thorough proofread would catch. Some resources may need to be updated since information practices and modes change so quickly; some references and links direct students to OSU information that would not apply to all readers.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

The book’s topic – academic research – necessarily demands constant updating given our fast-changing digital landscape and the shifting paradigms we are witnessing for locating and evaluating information in our times. Resources can become obsolete fairly quickly in this environment. The book’s content is largely up-to-date, though a thorough review of linked resources, perhaps annually, would be beneficial. For instance, a video on RSS mentioned a Google feature that looks to be no longer available, though finding alternatives proves simple when searched online. The book’s organization makes updating or replacing linked resources easy, so keeping the content relevant would be straightforward with regular review.

Content is presented in a style engaging for students, using the “you” pronoun address to walk readers through a thinking process that applies and links ideas to practice; this effective approach is used for many of the book’s concepts. The writing strikes a good stylistic balance between engaging the student reader and informing/challenging that same reader by modeling research brainstorming or methods. The style seems appropriate for college level readers and college level curricula. The topic of academic research does include some technical terms at times, but the book’s approach is to define and explain such terms a part of its content.

Stylistically and organizationally, the content is consistent and easy-to-follow. A user begins to anticipate knowledge check activities or “try it out” activities at particular points in each section. The knowledge check quizzes, which are simplified multiple choice questions, seem at odds with the highly contextualized concept explanations in much of the book’s prose; perhaps a different approach to knowledge check quizzing, which as an element can be helpful, would work better.

Modularity rating: 4

Headings and subheadings follow a logical organization and are easy to navigate in the book. Some sections do refer to—and link to—other book sections, but most would work as stand-alone modules. An instructor or course designer could pick and choose sections and adapt them for their own purposes. As a whole, the book remains self-referential to the context of a specific university, which limits the easy adaptation of the book, and perhaps even sections, for faculty and course designers at other educational institutions.

The book’s organization is easy to navigate and coheres with the overall focus on presenting academic research and information literacy in a way that invites students toward a practical and fuller understanding. Topic order makes sense and is organized via headings and subheadings well.

Overall, no significant navigation issues or interface distractions.

A few errors that look like typos remain in the book. Otherwise, grammatical errors are not an issue for readability.

Cultural Relevance rating: 4

A more nuanced and inclusive awareness of cultural relevance and diversity is worth considering for the book. The choice of some example topics, such as school shootings, might be distracting or traumatic for some student populations, while adding more examples that showcase interests or topics related to non-dominant cultural ideas would widen the sense of inclusivity throughout the book. Choices might be contingent on the demographics of the Ohio State University population, but more awareness of this aspect of the book might also make it more appealing as a resource for others to adapt

Reviewed by Nell McCabe, Associate Professor, Berkshire Community College on 6/15/21

This text is very-student friendly and covers all aspects of writing a student research paper, including steps that students frequently overlook such as the value of preliminary research and the different ways to incorporate different kinds of... read more

This text is very-student friendly and covers all aspects of writing a student research paper, including steps that students frequently overlook such as the value of preliminary research and the different ways to incorporate different kinds of information in a paper.

This text provides a well-balanced, research-driven approach to guiding students through the process of writing an academic research paper. Spelling mistakes, flaw grammar and usage, and factual errors are few and far between (as in I didn't find any during the course of this review).

Kinds of sources and the means of evaluating them are broad enough to be long-lasting, but the examples and other supporting details are timely and relevant.

This text uses student-friendly language and avoids jargon and other symptoms of academia run amok, while still maintaining high standards and expectations for students. Connections between the different stages of conducting research and developing an argument are well laid out and clear.

Terms associated with locating, evaluating, and incorporating a range of different kinds of sources are clear and consistent throughout the text.

The chapters do stand alone and I could image someone using bits and pieces or leaving out bits and pieces, but since the text is primarily focused on supporting the needs of a college research throughout the research process, it is hard to image much need for separating it into discrete modules. You could certainly rearrange the order of the chapters too if that worked better for your approach to teaching student research.

The flow of one chapter into the next is well-integrated and smooth. The order of the chapters

I had no issues with the interface; everything worked as expected.

Cultural Relevance rating: 3

The book does not go out of its way to make obviously inclusive examples. Increasing the cultural perspectives represented in the examples would enhance the overall value of this text.

Reviewed by Darci Adolf, Director of Library & Media Services, Oregon Coast Community College on 6/11/21

I found "Choosing and Using Sources" to be quite comprehensive and included the major areas that I cover in my LIB 101 Research skills class. In my class I like to cover each area of Eisenberg's Big6 Research model: Task definition, information... read more

I found "Choosing and Using Sources" to be quite comprehensive and included the major areas that I cover in my LIB 101 Research skills class. In my class I like to cover each area of Eisenberg's Big6 Research model: Task definition, information seeking strategies, location and access, use of information, synthesis, and evaluation. I was pleased to find the subject of synthesis covered under the writing chapter-- many research textbooks leave this out. I did not find anything that talked about Evaluation of the process and product. Also, I would've liked to have seen social justice and equity issues in information publishing and access addressed as a chapter or portion of a chapter. The textbook has a great Table of Contents, but no index.

This textbook seems to contain accurate and error-free content. I spot-checked most of the chapters and didn't find anything I didn't believe to be true, and links weren't broken. Because this book is mostly factual in nature, there aren't areas where an author's opinion was used over facts, and opinions seem to be be appropriate and unbiased. For example, the author remarks on the use of blogs in research: "Blogs – Frequently updated websites that do not necessarily require extensive technical skills and can be published by virtually anyone for no cost to themselves other than the time they devote to content creation." This is a wide-held belief among librarians.

The content appeared to be up-to-date throughout the book. The area that might change the quickest is the types of sources, Chapter 2 in the book. They did a good job including an overview of all of the major source types and should stay relevant for a good period of time. Because they've listed these source types in a single chapter, updates to the text should be fairly straight forward and easy to do without disturbing much of the rest of the book.

Clarity rating: 4

The text was clear to me, a seasoned librarian. But I think there were terms used throughout the textbook that might not be familiar to a student first starting out in library research. So I would add some clarification around some of the language if I were using this textbook for a lower-level class. For example: There are several types of specialized databases listed including: Bibliographic, Full-text, Multimedia, etc. Many first year students wouldn't know those terms, or others such as "circulation, World-cat, discharge, InterLibrary Loan" and so forth.

The text was consistent throughout in terms of terminology and the overall frame. As I mentioned previously, some of the terms might need to be defined for the first-year student, either in-text or in a separate glossary. The framework is well-done, with clear chapters and sections--it was definitely written by those who teach research at the college level.

The textbook has 13 chapters that are again sub-divided into six or more sub-topics. This makes it very easy for an instructor to pick and choose which topics to cover. The thirteen broader subjects makes it easy to use the entire textbook for a term-- or just choose the pieces you want to use. For example, I would use the "Ethical Use and Citing Sources" chapter if I were doing a one-shot in a classroom, but might choose to use most of the chapters for an online class.

The structure was easy to follow. If I were setting it up myself, I'd probably combine the chapters on Ethical Use of Sources (Ethical Use and Citing Sources, Why Cite Sources, and Challenges in Citing Sources) with the chapter on "How to Cite Sources," but it's easier to have them separate and combine them for a class than to have a big block of text that would make it difficult to work through.

The textbook online version was done in Wordpress, and was easy to view and navigate. There were several other choices for students, including a PDF that could be viewed off line. There were charts, graphs, and links throughout that added to the content, but not so much as to be distracting. Any visuals were simple and enough white space was left as to not overwhelm, with colors that were contrasting visually.

I spot-checked throughout the text in each chapter and did not find any grammatical errors.

The textbook seemed to be inclusive of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

Ohio State University has included a lot of links to their own pages, handouts, and resources that would need to be changed or omitted by a new user. For example, they have a handout from the OSU Writing Center, and they link to the OSU World Cat platform. These would need to be changed by the adopter.

Reviewed by Kaia Henrickson, Assistant Professor of Library & Information Science, Information Literacy Librarian, University of Alaska, Southeast on 11/4/20, updated 12/16/20

This text does a good job highlighting the steps in the research process, from formulating a strong research question, to finding and evaluating sources, to incorporating ideas from research into writing, and finally, to citing and using sources... read more

This text does a good job highlighting the steps in the research process, from formulating a strong research question, to finding and evaluating sources, to incorporating ideas from research into writing, and finally, to citing and using sources properly. Each chapter can stand on its own as useful content for a research-based course, or the entire text could be used to walk students through the entire research and writing process. Based on tutorials created for Ohio State University Libraries, some sections, like Chapter 5 on search tools as well as some of the activities, are fairly specific to OSU. Still, much of the text and many of the activities are applicable to all student researchers. This would be a great base text for someone who wanted to remix and add in information from their own university library and student service supports to replace the OSU-focused sections.

The material is accurate overall.

Text content, as well as videos and activities, are fairly current. Sections are small, so making updates should be fairly easy.

While the text is generally clear, there are sections that are a bit cumbersome or wordy. The Evaluating Sources section, especially, seems overly complicated.

References and links to other helpful sections within the text are appropriate and useful. Key concepts and ideas are repeated and built upon as the text progresses.

Each chapter is divided into manageable sections, and there are few sections which require a lot of scrolling. Those that are longer are broken up by subheadings. Embedded video content, visuals, and boxes are used to break up the text for easier reading and more visual appeal.

The text clearly progresses through the steps in the research and writing process from start to finish, but it can also be accessed by section if a particular subtopic is all that is needed. Each chapter stands on its own, as well as being integrated into the whole.

Interface rating: 3

The web version of the text has no paragraph indents or lines of space between paragraphs, which makes it a bit difficult to read, especially when there are longer blocks of text. There are many videos included that only have automatically-created closed captions (and a few with no closed captions available at all). A few of the graphics are blurry, but most visual and audiovisual content is clear and easy to read. With some of the linked activities, it is unclear what to do when you have selected an incorrect answer, and there is not much feedback for students who answer questions incorrectly.

Grammatical Errors rating: 4

There are a few typos and other minor issues here and there in the text. Some of the linked activities have more significant errors.

The text is not culturally insensitive, but it also doesn't present much in the way of diversity in examples or ideas. In addition, there is a noticeable amount content that is focused on Ohio State University resources and students, and this may not be relevant for readers from other universities.

Reviewed by Marybeth Beller, Associate Professor, Marshall University on 3/13/20

The book provides a thorough review of the research process; that said, a professor will have to add discipline-specific information and requirements, such as expected citation practices and research methods. read more

The book provides a thorough review of the research process; that said, a professor will have to add discipline-specific information and requirements, such as expected citation practices and research methods.

I found no errors in the text.

I will use this book for my undergraduate research course as it gives a very good introduction to research, from narrowing the topic to turning questions into hypotheses.

The book is very clear and provides graphs, links and videos for the reader to have additional information as needed.

Each chapter is organized similarly to the others and is written in the same easy-to-follow, technical-free language. It removes any inhibitions a reader might have.

Each chapter section has its own heading and link. The entire book could be assigned or sections of the book could be just as easily assigned. A drop-down table of contents menu allows the reader to move freely between topics.

This guide is beautifully organized for the beginning researcher but can easily be followed through the table of contents for students needed refreshers on particular elements of research.

I found no interface issues at all in navigating the book.

There were no grammatical errors in the text.

I believe the book would be welcomed by a diverse group of people. There is no insensitive language or use of poor examples in the book.

I really enjoyed the organization of the book and that the author takes the time to include links to additional information as well as videos for students who want to spend more time with a particular concept.

Reviewed by Racheal Rothrock, Assistant Professor, Miami University on 2/28/20

The text is comprehensive in its covering of topics related to choosing and using sources, though it does not go into great depth for each topic. Rather this text provides a broad overview around the topic of sources. This text seems to be written... read more

The text is comprehensive in its covering of topics related to choosing and using sources, though it does not go into great depth for each topic. Rather this text provides a broad overview around the topic of sources. This text seems to be written for an upper-level, undergraduate student audience. No glossary is provided.

This information is presented in an unbiased way that informs on the topic rather than presenting a strong bias or slant toward a particular type of source (though, there is cultural bias—see review comments in “cultural” section). The text does provide details on what approaches might be more helpful in certain situations. This provides a balance of usefulness for students trying to determine which sources to use, while also not assigning value to some sources over others or create a hierarchy.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 3

The text demonstrates a current understanding around the topic of sources, taking into account the shift away from paper and toward digital sources. While overall this text should be useful for several years, there are some areas that may require updating (e.g. links, OSU policies or statements, specifics about various citation styles, software options available, copyright laws, etc.). Throughout the text, the authors do depend on examples that are specific to OSU (e.g. a section on “WorldCat@OSU”), and this might provide less useful for non-OSU students.

The text is written with simple language and explanations are given for more technical terminology (e.g. peer-reviewed, quantitative, qualitative, etc.).

Little specialized terminology is used throughout the text, however, the language and terminology used is consistent throughout. The format, structure, and approach the authors use, is also consistent throughout the text and forms a cohesive narrative.

The text is broken up by main topics and then within each topic, subtopics are provided to support the main topic. The length of each subtopic is fairly brief and examples are provided throughout with graphical separation for clarity. While the topics and subtopics support each other, each subtopic could be assigned individually and would maintain usefulness.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

Overall, the organization is logical and clear. There are a few topics that might be shifted in their order, but this is not a critical need. For instance, moving the information about copyright closer to the section on ethical use of sources might make sense, but does not overly disrupt the general flow of the text.

There are no significant issues. A fixed bar at the bottom of the screen allows for navigation to pages directly preceding and proceeding the current page and a clickable contents button at the top right side of the page allows further navigation between sections. Overall, visuals do not appear to be distorted, however, many of the visuals are quite large, taking up the majority of the screen, and could be reduced in size without losing effectiveness. Additionally, on pages 9 and 11, a graphic is presented that contains text that is too small to read. While it is not necessary to read the text in the visual in order to understand the lesson of the section, because it is provided, it would be reasonable to make this large enough to be legible.

The text seems to be free of any major grammatical errors.

This text is written from an academic, western cultural perspective that is relevant to the particular topic and audience (i.e. “A guide to academic research”), but does not take into other ontological or epistemological scholarly perspectives (e.g. testimonios or oral histories as significant sources). The visuals and examples do privilege the U.S. and mainstream cultures, such as through a photo of a White woman using her Mac computer in a library, a photo of a football team, an illustration with the U.S. flag in it, an example question of “How has NASA helped America,” an example opinion of “George Clooney is the sexiest actor alive,” etc. The text is not overtly insensitive or offensive, but it also does not appear to take up or address non-dominant perspectives and cultures in any substantive way.

Reviewed by Audrey Besch, Temporary Faculty , East Tennessee State University on 10/31/19

This text is very comprehensive! From choosing sources to the final research project, this book does a wonderful job of providing all the steps. read more

This text is very comprehensive! From choosing sources to the final research project, this book does a wonderful job of providing all the steps.

Information is accurate for the purposes of writing research and using sources.

Up-to-date and relevant, this text does a good job of outlining various types of sources that can be used and the appropriate ways in which to use them.

Very easy to read content that would be great for students, especially those who are just starting the academic writing process for research.

The text remained consistent in it's use of terminology and framework.

Text has an appropriate use of subheadings and includes activity sections that focus on concepts. Material was broken into easy to grasp ways that didn't seem too lengthy.

Content is well organized and in a logical format for the content provided.

Book did not have any navigation issues and all images were appropriately used for content.

To the extent of my knowledge, there were no grammatical errors in this text.

There were no culturally insensitive issues or offensive language in this text that I could find.

Reviewed by Kris Frykman, Community Faculty, Minnesota State University System on 10/18/19

Comprehensive overview, with examples, to punctuate learning. read more

Comprehensive overview, with examples, to punctuate learning.

Clear, accurate process in showcasing academic research.

Appropriate book for researchers of all levels.

Chapter follow-up questions and videos are included to further enhance clarity.

Terminology and examples are included to further make the content accessible for the reader.

The book is divided in sections so that students can study and apply one concept at a time.

Content is clearly organized.

Charts, diagrams, examples, and videos are highlighted to exemplify key contents.

No discernable grammatical errors.

Appropriately culturally sensitive.

Reviewed by TyRee Jenks, Research Librarian & Library Instruction Coordinator, Montana State University - Billings on 7/31/19

The text is very comprehensive and covers all the necessary aspects of information literacy and student research. There is no index or glossary included, but terms are well explained within the text. The extensive coverage of topics, like types... read more

The text is very comprehensive and covers all the necessary aspects of information literacy and student research. There is no index or glossary included, but terms are well explained within the text. The extensive coverage of topics, like types of sources and copyright, was thorough while not being so in-depth as to bore students. The activities, quizzes, and short videos reinforce the concepts covered in the chapters and add interest, however some quizzes would benefit from additional explanation as to why answers are right or wrong.

The content of the text seems to be accurate. Very minor spelling errors and a copy/paste duplicate. No apparent bias.

Content is up to date and relevant for students while being broad enough to be useful for a longer period of time. Updating information would be easy. The text contains a lot of hyperlinks that an instructor would need to stay on top of to keep the links current. In some cases the links were to very reliable sources that will remain stable for a long time (i.e. Purdue OWL) while others are more transient (i.e. YouTube videos).

In general the text is clear, including good explanations of terms and concepts. It contains very little jargon and the prose is accessible. In “The Details Are Tricky” section, the finer points of primary, secondary, or tertiary information could be confusing to students who are trying to comprehend the basics. The author’s inclusion of informative tables with sample responses as well as the blank template for students to use was helpful.

There is consistent use of terminology and layout throughout the text.

The book has good modularity, excellent graphics, and the text and/or activities can easily be used at the point of need in an information literacy class or one that is discipline specific. Chapters can be used individually or rearranged as needed.

Overall the organizational flow worked well, however the chapters on copyright and fair use might make more sense when grouped with the chapters on the ethical use of sources and how to cite sources.

The EPUB and web versions of the text are easy to navigate with a clickable table of contents and left/right arrow navigation at the bottom of each page. Other than some images that could be resized, the formatting lent itself to consistency throughout the text giving students a uniform experience. In some cases the URL links were just written text instead of hyperlinked which was a little inconsistent. Pleasant graphics added value, explained concepts, balanced out the text, and added visual interest. The inclusion of links that lead out to further explanations of concepts (i.e. the peer review process or how to read a scholarly article) are a nice addition.

There are no major grammatical errors that would be distracting to the reader.

The text is applicable to students in all disciplines, and there are no concerns about cultural relevance or insensitivity. The text is heavily OSU centric (i.e. referencing the OSU code of conduct and requiring students to log in to OSU resources for some activities and examples) and requires effort on the part of instructors at other institutions to make the necessary changes making the content applicable at their institution.

With modifications this text could be incorporated into a three credit information literacy course for undergraduates or into other disciplines. The fair use and copyright sections could be useful to instructors as well as students. Could easily integrate with the ACRL Framework. There is some great general information on writing and making an argument that are applicable across disciplines.

Reviewed by Eric Bradley, Research and Instruction Librarian, Goshen College on 5/31/19

The focus of the book is on published sources for college level research and writing. In this area it is comprehensive. It does not address other areas of academic research. read more

The focus of the book is on published sources for college level research and writing. In this area it is comprehensive. It does not address other areas of academic research.

The content is accurate, error-free, and politically neutral. The last piece makes this a excellent source in the current United States political climate.

Content reflects the current realities of the information landscape. Several of the chapters use up-to-date wording that may need to be updated more frequently, but the excellent modularity of the text allows for accommodation.

The book is straight forward and uses contemporary language of the information and academic landscapes.

The text follows a consistent framework throughout the book.

The text is divided in a way to teach across a course. While the text builds upon itself, many of the chapters stand alone well. I have skipped several chapters of the text and it has not caused any disruption with students.

Excellent organization. The text guides the reader step by step through the research process.

Interface rating: 4

The overall interface is strong. The images and charts are excellent, although the use of branded logos in some of the images may become dated.

No grammatical errors noted.

The text is focused on academic research practices for a North American context. While not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way, it does not take into consideration research practices of other cultures.

I use this text as a replacement of Booth et al.’s Craft of Research. Beside the benefits of being a open textbook, this text provides a more relevant guide to finding sources in the current academic environment.

Reviewed by Kathleen Murphy, Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Music Thearpy, Loyola University-New Orleans on 4/30/19

This book includes all relevant information to help students choose appropriate sources for an academic research paper. It clearly defines different types of sources that can be used, and the difference between primary and secondary sources. It... read more

This book includes all relevant information to help students choose appropriate sources for an academic research paper. It clearly defines different types of sources that can be used, and the difference between primary and secondary sources. It gives an overview of how to search various databases, and defines and describes boolean operators. The chapter on ethical uses of sources clearly defines plagiarism and how and when to cite so as to avoid plagiarizing. The chapter on copyright is an excellent addition; that information is not common in many texts related to academic writing. Each chapter contains extra activities students can work on independently to help with understanding and application of the material covered.

Overall, I found the book to be accurate. I did find one error in Chapter 7. In the section titled "Challenges in Citing Sources" the entry labeled "Running out of Time" was repeated. In regards to bias--I did not find the content to be biased; however, the majority of links where students could go to get extra information were connected to Ohio State University. The one notable exception were the links to the Perdue Online Writing Lab.

The content is up-to-date and relevant. Choosing and using sources for an academic paper has not changed much. What has changed is how to access and find the sources to choose and use. This book does a nice job of explaining how to find sources--databases, google scholar, and search engines. My only concern is the frequent suggestion to search Wikipedia. As an academic, I find this a little troubling. To the author's credit, they did not that one should not cite Wikipedia or use information from Wikipedia in an academic paper. I am not able to comment on ease of updating information, as that is a technical issue.

The book is written in clear, accessible language, with limited "jargon." At times I found the writing to be too simple, written more for high school students than college students. Definitions are provided for all relevant terms.

The book is internally consistent. It moves through the process of choosing and using sources in a linear fashion. However, to their credit, the authors note that writing an academic research paper is not always a linear process.

Each chapter is broken up into smaller units that cover a topic relevant to the chapter theme. Sections of this book could be assigned as individual assignments based on areas of difficultly students seem to be having. Alternatively, a professor could develop a class session or two around each of the chapters. These book seems to be very versatile; there are links to previous chapters that readers can click on to refresh their memories.

The topics in the text are presented in a logical and clear way. The book moves through each topic associated with choosing and using sources in sequence that most researchers would follow. The table of contents, with main headings and subtopics provide a step-by-step guide to help undergraduate students through the research process.

There are many links in throughout the book that students can click on to get more information or to practice skills. Navigation back to the main text is a little trickier. Sometimes, clicking on the back arrow will get the reader back to the page s/he was studying before clicking on the hyperlink. More often, however, the back arrow will take the reader back to the Table of Contents, or front cover of the book. Not all the links worked when I went through the book

I did not fine any grammatical or mechanical errors. I think the book is well-written and appropriate for high school students. I think the language may be too simplistic for most college students.

I did not come across anything that was culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.

I think this book is an excellent resource for high school students, and maybe college freshman who need help in choosing and using sources for an academic paper. The book is logical, gives an overview of the process and provides excellent examples and extra activities to enhance learning. I think it also could be used as a self-study guide.

Reviewed by Miguel Valderrama, Adjunct Assistant Professor, New York City College of Technology on 4/7/19

This book is a great resource of all steps needed to be taken in an academic research process. The book's index clearly displays a suggested methodology to follow and makes it easier to comeback for the review of previous chapters. In general the... read more

This book is a great resource of all steps needed to be taken in an academic research process. The book's index clearly displays a suggested methodology to follow and makes it easier to comeback for the review of previous chapters. In general the book is easy to read and every time a new world or a particular terminology related to the topic comes up, it is clearly defined and put into context.

This book collects a series of methodologies that have been proven to be efficient when they are put into use during the process of academic research. These techniques are not only presented and described to the readers, they are also actively used in the various examples, pretty much in every chapter in the book. These techniques may not be the only way a person can start and develop a research process but they are certainly a clear and convenient way to do so for beginners. There may be complex terminology entered to the discussion which may slow down the reading process. However, this is effectively addressed by separated easy to access links; This provide more in detail definitions and exercises from a particular section.

This book is a guide that presents many particularities of research methods and techniques that have been used for long time. These methodologies have been proven to be very effective in academic research. This book not only collects many of these techniques but carefully relate them to new searching tools that are part of the communication era we live in nowadays. This was not the case just couple of decades ago. I anticipate long life to the methodologies presented in this text with years or decades before they could become obsolete. Within this context, the searching tools may keep changing but the methodologies that are used here could keep working efficiently; at least as a way to approach to a research process for an undergrad student.

The author uses a clear and easy way to understand the language and terminology that makes part of a research process. Without getting too deep into technical terminology the book marks clearly words that deserve more understanding and usually provides separate links which connects the reader with a deeper explanation. The text doesn't have very large paragraphs all around which to me allows readers to keep a good and dynamic paste. Links to previous discussed topics presents a quick way to review previous content without loosing the paste.

Consistency rating: 4

Through out the entire text it is consistent that at the beginning of every chapter there's a statement related to what the previous set of contents was, also in several parts of the book this first paragraph makes a point about how this relates to what it is about to be presented in that chapter. This is why several words allusive to the subject of research are reuse constantly in different chapters. This makes lots of sense to me as a way to keep the reader's familiarity with these terms which will also ended up increasing retentivity levels in the subject. Since the book is clearly broken down into steps they all seemed to be well placed in order to present a cohesive structure that guides the process of research.

Academic research it is a process that should be flexible by nature in many ways. Even though some parts of the process could be done simultaneously to others, this will definitely not apply to all of them. This book brings up an interesting way to order this process which even though may look rigid at times it tries to make sure that some parts are developed before others in the research. It is presented that way so that there's enough understanding of the bases before there can be any progression or even conclusions. This is mostly reflected in the techniques that are presented, where some of then have as their main job to detonate creative thinking. For example: the importance of the set of questions that are asked at the beginning is that the answers will be used mostly to clarify the end goals of a research.

This text is organized following a clear and efficient way to develop an academic research process. It is well distributed in chapters that are all connected to each other in one or other way. The book is efficient at establishing this connections, specially at the beginning and end of every chapter where there's mentioning of the previous and following topic's main ideas. This helps readers to keep track with the overall content.

This book presents an excellent graphic approach to expose its content. The electronic version has the really nice feature of having the index accessible at any point of the reading process. This text is full of links that are either deeper explanations of a particular topic or a set of exercises that are directly related to what the reader is learning. If the idea was to present the information in a format that doesn't look congested to the eyes and that it is not distracting the reader from the important ideas, the editors made an excellent job. This book can't be easier to read, follow through and understand.

Besides a couple of punctuation spaces here and then I was not able to perceive any major grammatical errors. The book is well written all around. Punctuation is pretty much excellent and its composition keeps the reader in track with the content effectible.

Particularly the topics used as examples were very diverse in therms of gender allusion, cultural backgrounds and specialized fields. Research is a process that apply to all disciplines and the professionals working in them. This makes the research process a particularly broad one. The book makes efforts to present this idea by using numerous examples that connect with different segments of the population at numerous levels.

This books is an excellent tool available to anyone who wishes to start a serious research process in almost any particular professional area or field, even amateur researchers can benefit from its content. The book was written to merge the topic content with a series of exercises, tests and examples using a cohesive testing dynamic that helps to increase retention. This dynamic becomes the most efficient way to understand what it takes to start a professional research. The steps to follow the process are laid out clearly in this guide and the important things that need to be taking in account during the research process are highlighted and deconstructed to obtain a deeper overall understanding by the reader or researcher. The fact that the reader is being quizzed constantly during the entire book generates a stronger connection with the important subjects and a good way to evaluate the reader's understanding in real time as well. Highly recommended to undergrad and graduate students and perhaps even amateur researchers becoming familiar with the process of research as well.

Reviewed by Cindy Gruwell, Professor/Research Librarian, Minnesota State on 1/11/19

Choosing and Using Sources does a very good job of covering the topic of Academic Research. Each chapter focuses on an aspect of the research process and thoroughly covers the content with easy to read text and examples/activities for student... read more

Choosing and Using Sources does a very good job of covering the topic of Academic Research. Each chapter focuses on an aspect of the research process and thoroughly covers the content with easy to read text and examples/activities for student practice. Most importantly first-year students through seniors should find the content informative and presented in a collegial format.

All of the content is accurate and explained in a manner that is easy to grasp. There are some minor typos in some of the activities, but they do not confuse the reader. The text is bias-free and includes interesting examples that students can relate to.

The overall content is highly relevant and will age very well. Updates would definite be easy to handle and manipulate. By breaking down each chapter into a variety of content areas, readers will be able to focus and review areas of concern.

Having read several print and online texts of a similar nature, it was a pleasure to come across a text that is clean, consistent, and concise. Each topic has an appropriate amount of information to get the point across as well as tips that lead the reader to additional information. The presentation is consistent throughout without any bloating often found in print texts.

The authors of the text did an excellent job of producing an online text that is consistent and easy to use. No tricks that make it difficult to navigate or confusing to read.

One aspect of the text that I especially like is the modularity that allows for the use of a particular chapter or page(s). Too often texts have chapters that make readers feel like there is no end in sight. The concise nature of this work blends extremely well with the modularity of the complete text.

What makes this text easy to adapt is the layout from beginning to end. Each chapter and section scaffolds upon the other which will allow students to build their skills in a natural manner. Knowledge attained will easily transfer from one topic to another as they move through the book.

While I believe that the text is excellent and I have adopted it for my class, I do find myself frustrated by not being able to move from one section to another within a chapter without having to go back to the contents list. This surprised me because most books and tutorials have forward and backward links, especially within chapters.

There are a few grammatical (spelling) errors in several of the exercises, however, they do not interfere or confuse the reader.

This is definitely a professional work that has no cultural issues and is an excellent example of a non-biased text.

While looking for an OER text I was delighted to come across this book. The content and flow fit in with my class content extremely well and is an excellent resources for courses in the liberal arts, general research, and library-centric classes.

Reviewed by Kathy Moss, Clinical Professor, University of Missouri on 11/27/18

The hyperlinks and examples include a wide range of topics that include cooking, surgery, architecture and sports. read more

The hyperlinks and examples include a wide range of topics that include cooking, surgery, architecture and sports.

Credit is given to an editor, production and design specialists, as well as several content contributors. No additional information is provided to support inference regarding author credibility.

The open textbook Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research presented material that is relevant to my current issues course, including Background reading, Developing a complex research question, Classifying sources, and Evaluating sources.

The topics are presented clearly, using an engaging conversational style and frequent tips and activities. A reader who has no background in information science may be hampered by some terms used in the book (e.g., blog, podcast, Wikipedia, browser, database, Gawker, Reddit). The book does give intentional attention to the technology-naïve audience with some skills (Control-F) and topics (brief description of LexisNexis Academic, Lantern Online).

Terms and organizational framework are consistent throughout the text.

I plan to assign particular chapters of this text that are most relevant to my course's goals. The consistency of the text's terminology and organization should permit this reading plan with minimal distraction to the reader.

The information is clearly organized with a contents listing, chapter numbers and section headers. This organization facilitates easy access for learners with a specific interest in a single topic.

The author’s frequent use of hyperlinks invites students to explore topics more in-depth.

I note a few minor typographical errors that did not adversely affect my ability to comprehend the text.

The book includes examples of non-Western sources such as the allAfrica news database. Some of the links and examples are only available to individuals who have accounts with The Ohio State University. Though the book includes examples in audio and video formats, it could be improved by giving specific attention to topics related to accessibility.

The book provides the opportunity for readers to apply the topics by analyzing its frequent examples.

Reviewed by Lori Meier, Associate Professor, East Tennessee State University on 11/8/18

This text is exceedingly comprehensive. It addresses all elements of academic research (i.e. choosing questions, exploring and selecting sources, searching strategies, citation issues, copyright) as well as providing abundant links for student... read more

This text is exceedingly comprehensive. It addresses all elements of academic research (i.e. choosing questions, exploring and selecting sources, searching strategies, citation issues, copyright) as well as providing abundant links for student use. It is lacking an index or glossary - although many concepts are defined in the various chapters.

This book is accurate and comprehensive. I would not hesitate to use this resource with undergraduate or graduate students as a beginning primer for research.

The book is relevant and timely in regards to the various resources and tech tools it mentions (Google Scholar, EndNote, Ref Works). Given the subject matter I suspect that this book will have longevity to users.

The text is clear and provides definitions for jargon/technical terminology that is used. It is very comprehensive which might be a bit intimidating for the first time reader, but all elements needed for cogent research are included and therefore necessary. I appreciate the use of student scenarios as a way to step-by-step show the thinking process of choosing research questions.

Very consistent and thorough.

This text would be ideal for use as single chapters in courses where the content is needed. While the content is crafted with Ohio State University students in mind it is still very relevant for use by students and scholars. I am already thinking how I might use this next semester with an undergraduate honor's thesis student - both as modules to be read but also as a reference source.

The book is organized in a logical manner but spends only a brief amount of time about qualitative and quantitative research as peer-reviewed sources and only gives basic definitions for those two terms. I would perhaps suggest an additional section on qual/quant/mixed methods research methodology and perhaps a quick overview of research methods or samples via discipline. Additionally, a mention of the common IRB process for Human Subject Research might be helpful to those students using academic sources that discuss that process. It is a very clear text and this could be added with just a few pages of information that might be beneficial to students.

Navigation links worked well for me. The book is easy to read and the display features are not troublesome to me.

Grammatically sound.

Appropriate and is accessible to a wide audience.

Reviewed by Kathy Lamb, ELL Specialist/ English Instructor, Miami University on 8/2/18

The text covers most areas of academic research, and has a table of contents but no glossary, which is much needed. Topics are clear and concise, transitioning smoothly from general to more specific, such as “What is a Research Question?” to... read more

The text covers most areas of academic research, and has a table of contents but no glossary, which is much needed. Topics are clear and concise, transitioning smoothly from general to more specific, such as “What is a Research Question?” to “Narrowing Topics” and finding “Related Terms”. Perfect for college freshmen.

The content is accurate, error-free and unbiased.

The source is up-to-date and it would be relatively easy to update information.

The text is easily understand and flows in a clear manner. Ideas and topics progress easily and examples are used to offer context.

Ideas build one upon another and academic vocabulary is repeated throughout.

Some parts of the book seem a little “text heavy”, but overall it is well organized with efficient flow. The embedded links in the text connect earlier concepts

One problematic is that there lacks a glossary. The table of contents is very long, but broken down so that one is able to easily reference topics. Chapters are concise enough to be read in a timely manner and effectively used.

For some of the online activities it was confusing to discern which answers were correct or incorrect. And, after clicking on and completing an activity one must go back to the former page in order to navigate further. On the other hand, being able to access other information about the chapter topics via link is a handy tool.

There are no grammatical errors.

This book is culturally relevant and not offensive or insensitive in any way.

Reviewed by Sara Abrahamson, Faculty, Minneosta West Community and Technical College on 8/2/18

This text is very comprehensive. The complete research process is broken down from start to finish. read more

This text is very comprehensive. The complete research process is broken down from start to finish.

Very accurate information.

The content is very relative to today's researchers and does a fine job of detailing types of sources.

Very easy to read with content that is easily understood by even a first-time researcher.

The content was very consistent and easy to follow because if it.

LOVED the easy of reading because of the small, digestible informational pieces!

The flow of the text was perfect, following the research process from beginning to end.

I enjoyed the hyperlinked Activities, however, they did not all work for me.

No grammatical errors found.

Very culturally unbiased.

Excellent text that I wished I had years ago!

Reviewed by Justin Megahan, Librarian / Associate Professor, Fontbonne University on 6/19/18

The text does a good job covering academic research. There is a table of contents, but I feel like a glossary and index would be helpful for this book. read more

The text does a good job covering academic research. There is a table of contents, but I feel like a glossary and index would be helpful for this book.

The content is accurate. I did not notice any errors.

The content is up-to-date. There are many databases and websites referred to in the text so it is important to check those relevant links on occasion. It would be straightforward to update the text as needed.

The text clearly steps the reader through the research process. The process is discussed in detail over the 13 chapters.

The text is consistent.

The book is modular. Chapters can be rearranged without confusion. The Copyright Chapter is a good example of a component that can be used separately as a supplemental reading in another course.

The book is organized logically. The addition of a glossary and index could help navigation.

The book has images, charts, and videos that are useful. There are quick activity questions that tests the students’ knowledge on the current topic. These activities do link out to OSU’s site so it is important to make sure those links continue to stay active.

The text contains no grammatical errors.

This book does not have cultural concerns.

Many links direct the reader to OSU resources that have restricted access. The discussion of OSU resources and tools needs to be modified to fit the reader’s institutional resources. “ACTIVITY: Quantitative vs. Qualitative” has a link that is no longer working.

Reviewed by Jane Theissen, Reference Librarian/Professor, Fontbonne University on 5/21/18

The research process is explained in detail, from how to develop a research question to where and how to research through the application of copyright, fair use and citation styles. read more

The research process is explained in detail, from how to develop a research question to where and how to research through the application of copyright, fair use and citation styles.

The content is accurate and unbiased. Most of the links, which are plentiful and well placed, are either broken or link to resources at OSU's library, which I could not access. Use of this book would require time to correct this.

The content is stable. Other than updating the links, little would need to be done to use this text.

Very clearly written; jargon is appropriately explained. Self-checks allow students to make sure they understand the material.

Each section logically builds on the previous, and tone is consistent throughout.

The text has a great deal of modularity. Each section is listed in the Table of Contents and covers a few pages or less. There is no index. It is easy to find and move to sections quickly. the structure allows one to pull sections out for other courses (which I have done).

The research process is explained step-by-step with appropriate detail and excellent graphics.

Images, charts, and diagrams serve to explain and support the text. Many seem rather large and I found them a bit distracting. Additionally, there are page breaks in strange places, leaving large blocks of white space on pages while the narrative continued on the next page. This was very confusing. It would also be helpful if the links would open in a new window.

It seemed inclusive where applicable.

This text impressed me as appropriate for high school students or college freshmen.

Reviewed by Laura Heinz, Librarian, Texas Tech University on 3/27/18

This book provides beginning student researchers with a clear and complete path to the research process for class assignments and undergraduate research projects. read more

This book provides beginning student researchers with a clear and complete path to the research process for class assignments and undergraduate research projects.

The content is presented is accurate and in an unbiased manner for students to easily grasp the process and concepts.

This book was written in 2016 and may need some minor updates. The material is presented in a logical manner that leads students through the process as they begin their research. Each chapter can be used independently as the instructor fits the chapters into course content.

This book is easily understood by an undergraduate and doesn't require extra readings or content to be understood. It is concise and clear which will be appreciated by the student as they conduct research.

This book is consistent in it's framework which leads the student to each step logically avoiding confusion or frustration.

The chapters can easily be used independently and refer students to other chapters with supporting information.

The book is written to lead students in a logical manner through the research process. The length of the chapters allows a student to easily read the chapter for that step in their research, apply it and refer to it easily.

The book downloads easily onto a laptop or e-reader. The graphics display nicely on either size screen and enhance the text.

No grammatical errors were noticed.

This book is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. Examples used are appropriate.

This book introduces beginning student researchers to the academic research process in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. The books lack of jargon and abbreviations will help international students learn how to better navigate an academic library for research. Instructors in all disciplines should consider this book as an additional textbook for their classes requiring research for assignments, class projects and/or papers.

Reviewed by Hilary Johnson, Learning & Teaching Librarian, The Open University on 3/27/18

The text does not include an index or glossary. However, it covers a complex (and dry) subject in an economical and stimulating fashion. Each reader would learn about the subject from the basic text but the authors have enriched the text by... read more

The text does not include an index or glossary. However, it covers a complex (and dry) subject in an economical and stimulating fashion. Each reader would learn about the subject from the basic text but the authors have enriched the text by embedding audio-visual resources, download-and-keep checklists and formative activities of excellent quality.Chapter 9 'Making an Argument' is particularly strong and complements Chapter 1's analysis of research questions well. It is an excellent resource for undergraduates, post-graduates and beyond, and could also be useful for professionals researching topics to support evidence-based practice protocols.

More tips about applying facets to search results on services like Summon, EDS or Primo would be a useful addiition. I was surprised the authors did not employ language to frame the skill development in the language of 'employability' and life-skills, which might hook readers who are not planning to engage in academic research in the long-term.

The accuracy of the book was excellent, My score would have been 5, except the advice about copyright legislation and fair use is only applicable to students of Ohio State or elsewhere in the USA; so an institution in the Britain, Ireland or Europe would not be able to use or recommend chapters 11 or 12. However, these chapters are well-judged for the intended audience; succinct and comprehensible, where so many guides are too woolly or arcane to be useful to a general readership.

Chapter 1 had a dead link to an audio-visual resource. The explanation of how to use Wikipedia for academic study was nuanced, classic and practical. The explanation of how to use truncation and wildcards were similarly time- (and platform-) proof. There is much current interest in 'fake news' and the manipulation of Facebook and Google algorithms. So it could be timely to add a section on the known issues and some practical strategies to compensate for them.

The authors use excellent, clear English that should be comprehensible to anyone with academic english reading proficiency. My only qualms related to an ambiguous use of the term "poster" (this word has a particular meaning in an academic setting which was not explained) and more extensively around the slightly simplistic and dated language used for the university library catalogue and abstract & indexing databases. One of the activity sheets is structured like a decision-tree and starts with the question "are you working from a database"; with modern resource discovery platforms and other aggregating tools, students may not be able to tell whether they are looking at results from a single database, all the databases from one supplier or multiple databases from a variety of suppliers.

The stylesheet and planning of content is elegant and the quality is consistent throughout the text.

Each chapter is split into useful subsections, with clear formatting to demarcate between topics, tips and activities. The authors have also helpfully embedded hyperlinks to relevant chapters or sections earlier or later in the book.The length of individual subsections is consistent to make reading online easy (balancing scrolling and page turning). However, the length of embedded audio-visual materials varies so a student planning their time might be surprised in places.

The text has a sensible progression of topics, with hyperlinks back and forwards to connect relevant topics. And the final chapter, 'Roles of Research Sources', pulls together the lessons learnt with a useful acronym (BEAM), giving the book a strong ending.

I accessed the text on a variety of browsers, screen sizes and operating systems without any problems with the interface.

I only spotted two minor errors - site instead of cite and White's definition (page 186) without an apostrophe.

Not all the video materials embedded are captioned making them inaccessible to some categories of disabled users.

is research paper primary source

Reviewed by Lydia Bales, Academic Skills Tutor & Librarian, Staffordshire University on 2/1/18

Considering the book is not overly large, the guide manages to be very through and comprehensive guide to locating sources and using them correctly. It even goes further in giving some great information on making an argument and writing out the... read more

Considering the book is not overly large, the guide manages to be very through and comprehensive guide to locating sources and using them correctly. It even goes further in giving some great information on making an argument and writing out the research. The chapters are in easily digestible chunks covering the process of searching and evaluating resources in a useful and cross-discipline manner. It covers the source search process of research in an easily digestible manner.

The topics are accurate and have been written in a way that they will not date too much. The links and examples of the services provided may need updating to keep them accurate but the nature of the online format makes this easily possible. The Copyright chapter is obviously only applicable to those studying in the US. Having a version of this chapter available discussing copyright law in the UK could be useful any access the course for a different location.

The topics, examples and videos used are relevant and useful and should not date too much. The links and examples of the services provided may need updating to keep them accurate but the nature of the online format makes this easily possible. Some of the examples and links are specific to Ohio State and America and this can limit the relevance for students who do not have the ability to access Ohio State resources or are not based in America. Also the copyright section specfically is obviously only US copyright law limiting it's usefulness for students based in other locations.

The writing style is straightforward and easy to follow. It is sometimes slightly repetitive but overall the information is clearly presented and the vocabulary used is not too advanced. The style is informal and it makes a weighty topic much easier to process. I think it would be useful to have a glossary in the resource for students who maybe have not come across some of the topic specific words before and need them defining.

I was impressed with the consistency considering the work is made up of different author’s contributions. I could not identify different voices within the text, which helped improve the flow of the work. The arrangement of the contents tab is very useful to help navigate to specific sections of chapters as well as the overall chapter.

The layout of the book makes this modular. You can choose which sections to look at in any order and they read clearly and separately well. The other sections are signposted throughout the text and you can link back through to these using the hyperlinks provided. I think the order could be slightly improved by moving the citing and copyright information after the information on argument and writing but because you can choose how to read the book then it is not really an issue. I think it is important to note that if you cannot play the video content or the links in the book are Ohio State Specific the book does lose some of its positive features.

Overall, the structure is straightforward and logical. It flows in a manner that is easy to read and to process. Using the navigation you can work your way through the book in any order you feel is appropriate. As I stated I feel the referencing and copyright information could be in a different place but because you can choose to read this in a different order, it does not really matter.

Having read the online version on both a PC and a tablet I found the interface both easy to use and accessible. The page and chapter length worked well on both platforms and it was easy to access the links and activities contained within the resource. I could not access the videos on the PC due to not having Adobe Flash and it would be useful to have known I would require this to access the resource in its entirety. The video content is a refreshing change to just text and the images used are overall relevant. The videos do not all include a text version and this would be useful for accessibility. A few of them do have this option. Some of the images in the text viewed blurry on my PC and tablet. I am not sure if this was an issue with my own software or an error in the book.

I did not notice any errors during this read through. In some places, the text was a bit repetitive but this not disrupt the flow too drastically.

The examples used are not offensive and are diverse in their range. They have not given examples that define the guide for specific subset of students, which makes it more applicable.

Just for accessibility purposes, I think all the videos need a text version not just some. In addition, the RefWorks program has now been updated and it is called New Refworks with a changed logo and this could be updated in the book along with the guide to setting up Refworks if your institution subscribes. I feel that there are many links that you could not access unless you were an Ohio State user and this could disrupt the flow of the book for some users.

Reviewed by Lori Jacobson, Associate Director, Curriculum Development, William & Mary Writing Resources Center on 2/1/18

The book provides a comprehensive introduction to the use of sources in academic writing. read more

The book provides a comprehensive introduction to the use of sources in academic writing.

The book is a polished, professional and appropriate tool to help students improve their information literacy.

The content is relevant for undergraduate students and their instructors. It focuses primarily on fundamental approaches to finding, evaluating, and deploying sources in order to enter the scholarly conversation. While the authors occasionally mention a specific tool, or insert links to outside sources, these are placed within "Tip" boxes that can easily be updated.

Because this book was created for students at Ohio State University, it is sometimes quite specific about tools or processes that are unique to OSU. Instructors using this book at other institutions may sometimes need to suggest their own's institution's available tools to keep the text relevant for their students.

The book is well-crafted for an undergraduate audience, taking an easy-going, friendly tone and clearly defining key terms and concepts. It is also accessibly structured, making it fairly easy for users to jump between topics, rather than requiring a linear read. Links between related sections are provided wherever it is appropriate.

The book uses a consistent design scheme and structure. Features that appear in each chapter include graphics, tip boxes, examples, activities, and summaries.

Each unit of the text stands on its own and could be easily assigned as an individual reading. Rather than being self-referential, the text will suggest that more information on a related topic can be found in one of the other modules.

The text is organized to flow in roughly the same sequence as a typical research project. Students who are reading the text while working on a project should find individual sections logically presented and relevant. This is clearly not a text designed as background reading; rather it functions best as "just in time" information for students working through the research process.

I found the text quite easy to use in it its online form. It is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and thoughtfully arranged.

I noticed a couple of typos, but no significant grammatical errors.

The examples provided are of broad interest, and most readers will have some familiarity with them. There were no insensitive or offensive comments or examples.

Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research is a practical tool for novice researchers. It asks students to begin the process with a research question, and then provides a step-by-step approach to creating the question. All the other chapters flow from this effective beginning, and should increase students' information literacy by helping them understand types of sources available to researchers, the relationship between sources and information needs, how sources should be evaluated, and how they can be deployed effectively and ethically. Additional chapters on argumentation and copyright round out the book's overall usefulness to students engaged in a research project. This book could be easily paired with a staged research project, and would provide students with the "just-in-time" information they need to successfully complete the assignment.

Reviewed by Kristin Green, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Penn State Worthington Scranton on 2/1/18

The aspects of academic research that are prudent to cover within the first year of any undergraduate student's general education are all covered within this textbook. From an introduction to the ethics of source use to crafting basic Boolean... read more

The aspects of academic research that are prudent to cover within the first year of any undergraduate student's general education are all covered within this textbook. From an introduction to the ethics of source use to crafting basic Boolean search strings, all facets of entering scholarly discourse are addressed in brief chapters that feel modern and accessible. While instructors may wish to supplement or replace some of the exercise sets in the text with their own assessments, the content of the text provides ample coverage if selected to serve as a primary textbook for a foundational information literacy course.

The book is accurate in addressing the current state of the information landscape as encountered in the realm of academic research, as well as the legalities of copyright and fair use.

All content within this book is current and the content within chapters sections are written in a style that today's undergraduate students will be able to learn easily from. Many of the concepts, processes, and principles that are covered in the text have an inherent longevity that will prolong the relevance of this text past its initial publication date. However some chapter sections, tutorials, and videos are institution-specific reducing the overall relevancy of using the entire text at other locations.

The text is written in a clear and concise style that current students will find very accessible. The authors consciously defined any technical terminology or jargon as it was introduced throughout the chapters. Furthermore, the technical concepts that were more complex to define are often accompanied by visuals to help convey what is being defined.

The terminology and format of the book, along with the linked exercise sets and visualizations, provide a solid consistency that will helps students focus on learning the content rather than being bogged down with understanding the textbook format.

Instructors could easily parse different chapters of this book to use for modular instruction, especially in "one-shot" or other limited instructional scenarios. Some of the chapters are a bit self-referential which may generate a minor degree of confusion if used out of the holistic context.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 3

While there is a logical flow to most of the chapters, some seem a little out of place such as the "Making an Argument" chapter. I would have preferred a division of chapters into sections, where the writing-related chapters were separated from the source-related chapters. I also think the chapters that covered Copyright, Fair Use, ethical source use, and citations would have a stronger flow if organized together in their own section.

The ability to navigate through the book from the table of contents page is a great feature for students, especially when the instructor is choosing to assign only particular chapters or work through some of the chapters in a different sequence. The linked exercise sets are also easy to navigate through, allowing students to focusing on applying learned concepts rather than learning new interfaces. However, throughout my review some of the linked external content would not open for me and links to external materials always have the possibility of changing which may result in future inaccessibility

No grammatical errors were detected when reviewing this book.

This book is not offensive nor culturally insensitive in any manner.

For any instructor looking for an open textbook to orient undergraduate students to the basics of the academic research and writing processes while simultaneously providing context of contemporary issues surrounding these scholarly activities, this is a comprehensive and accessible choice!

Reviewed by Anne Behler, Information Literacy Librarian & Instruction Coordinator, The Pennsylvania State University on 2/1/18

This text offers a comprehensive breakdown of the academic research process, with special effort made to demystify jargon that may present itself in either the classroom or library environment. Beginning with establishing a research question and... read more

This text offers a comprehensive breakdown of the academic research process, with special effort made to demystify jargon that may present itself in either the classroom or library environment. Beginning with establishing a research question and carrying through to integrating and citing sources, the text includes practical tools for students to use in their own research, as well as links to supplemental information. If anything, the text errs on the side of providing too much information, such that a novice researcher may feel overloaded.

The text offers an accurate articulation of the research process, and avoids bias by covering a wide variety of potential information sources, including the use of web search engines other than Google.

Because the information landscape is constantly shifting, the text will require fairly frequent review. This is particularly important when it comes to how web sources are addressed. For example, the book does not address fake news and/or dealing with problematic web resources, and it glosses over use of social media as an information source. However, the concepts related to the research process itself change very little, and the information presented about them has staying power.

The text is written in accessible language, and works to address uses of jargon that are typical within the academic environment by providing explanations for what professors typically want when they request a particular item in the research process. This is an effective way to establish relevance with students, as well as clarify academic expectations.

The language within the text is consistent and accessible, with helpful insertions of definitions and/or links to explanatory supplementary information online.

The text's sections are clearly and logically labeled, and could very easily be plugged into a course in part or whole.

The order of topics in the text follow the research assignment process, from point of assignment decoding through to writing and source citation. Given the audience for the text and its intended purpose, this makes great sense.

The text contains links to many outside web sources that may provide helpful supplemental information for the reader; however many of these links were found to be dead. Comprehensive review of all links is highly recommended. In addition, I recommend continuing review of available videos related to the topics, as many selected are either rudimentary or contain dated material.

The writing and grammatical quality of this text are of the highest quality.

The text is culturally relevant and inclusive in its examples.

As stated, this book holds great utility and relevance, but requires updating for links to external web resources. It will also need to be adapted to keep up with the changing landscape of information sources themselves.

Reviewed by Craig Larson, Librarian, North Hennepin Community College on 2/1/18

The book is very comprehensive, sometimes almost too much so (sections on copyright seem to be more detailed than the average college student would need or perhaps be interested in; the section on the lifecycle of information, while interesting,... read more

The book is very comprehensive, sometimes almost too much so (sections on copyright seem to be more detailed than the average college student would need or perhaps be interested in; the section on the lifecycle of information, while interesting, also is a bit questionable as to its overall relevance). Instructors who choose this book for a one- or two-credit information literacy course will have much more material at their hands than they can reasonably cover in a semester. This book would make a good companion volume to just about any course involving research.

The content is accurate and unbiased. As an example, I was interested to find that the author actually recommends that students use Wikipedia, at least in the very early stages of research, to get an overall picture of their topic. So many college instructors, regardless of the subject, seem to have a strong aversion to Wikipedia. Here, the author actually goes into some detail on how using the references in an entry can lead the researcher to additional sources he/she might not find through other means. Some of the activities are a bit misleading or written in such a way that there could be more than one right answer, which isn't necessarily an error, but could be tightened up a bit.

The content is largely relevant and up-to-date, though I was a bit surprised to not find a section addressing "fake news," which has become such a watchword over the past year. I was also a bit surprised that, although the author has a section talking about which "neighborhood" certain types of information "hangs out," there wasn't a discussion of different domain names, such as ".edu," ".org," and ".com" and what they indicate to readers. Also hampering the book's relevance somewhat is an overabundance of examples and activities that require an Ohio State student ID to log-in. Many of these would have to be re-worked or re-written for the book to be useful at other schools.

In large part, the book is clearly written and new ideas are clearly explained. The writer does a pretty good job of avoiding jargon and technical terminology or where it can't be avoided, of providing examples and clear definitions of terms. Some of the activities aren't so clearly written that there is one obviously correct answer. Also, some of the scoring of activities isn't clear enough to indicate to the user what was wrong and why it was wrong or even the correct answer that should have been chosen. Not every concept is adequately explained or thoroughly developed (for instance, the crucial process of moving from an initial reading to a research question could use further clarification and development). Another area that could use further discussion and development would be how to use databases.

The book is largely consistent, though there are occasions where the consistency falls through. For example, most of the accompanying activities will open in a new window, but not all. There were several occasions where this reader closed out an activity window and closed out the entire book as well. This is an area that someone really should take a look at, as it can be confusing and irritating for the user. Also, the fact that many of the book's activities require an Ohio State student ID effectively locks out users from other institutions.

The book is largely modular, with sections that can easily be broken apart and assigned at different points in the course. There is a very useful table of contents, broken down by subject into smaller pieces that can easily be accessed. As mentioned previously, the book is very comprehensive, almost too much so at times, so having this table of contents is very helpful.

The book is fairly-well organized, though there are things placed in odd locations that could be touched on earlier or later, as the case may be. For instance, there is a good discussion fairly late in the book about deciding whether to quote, paraphrase, or summarize, which would have been much more useful if it was placed in the section of the book that directly addresses each of those activities. Instead, it is placed in a section on academic integrity (which, again, is very Ohio State-specific, too much so, really). I also question the relevance of a chapter on creating an academic argument, which if it is to be included at all, would seem to make much more sense earlier in the book, when students are learning the basics of research and how to apply it to their writing.

The book is largely free of significant issues, although as mentioned previously, many of the activities require an Ohio State student ID to log-in and use, which makes them useless to students from other institutions. Also, the activities are sometimes difficult to follow--one doesn't know why one answered incorrectly or what the correct answer even is in some instances. And the fact that some activities open a new browser window and some don't can also be confusing. There are a few activities that lead to broken links.

There are the occasional run-on sentences and spelling mistakes in the text. It's almost impossible not to have some issues in this area. However, the infrequent errors don't detract from the book or its overall usefulness, though it might be a good idea for someone to go through the text and try to clear some of these up.

The book does a good job of avoiding being culturally insensitive or offensive. Activities and examples are written in such a way as to be inclusive. Many of the examples link directly to sites that deal with minority themes and issue.

I think, on the whole, this is a very useful book and one that could be put to immediate use in many instances. However, the number of activities and examples that require an Ohio State student ID to access make this less relevant than it could be if the author had striven for more universal examples.

Reviewed by Mairéad Hogan, Lecturer, National University of Ireland, Galway on 2/1/18

This book covers the subject matter in a comprehensive and detailed way. The way in which the material is presented is very suitable for students who have not previously been involved in academic research as it starts at the very beginning and... read more

This book covers the subject matter in a comprehensive and detailed way. The way in which the material is presented is very suitable for students who have not previously been involved in academic research as it starts at the very beginning and assumes no prior knowledge. It has additional features that help to reinforce the material, such as activities and MCQs. These help to reinforce the learning and test the reader’s understanding. Additionally, the examples used are very useful and helpful in gaining understanding of the subject matter.

It goes into the material in depth and not only tells students how to progress their research but also explains clearly why they should be doing it this way. For example, it explains to students how to differentiate between good and bad sources. However, I have one small concern with this aspect. They do not tell students how to differentiate between different standards of peer-reviewed journals. They do mention looking at citation count but state that is not a useful measure for very recent articles. Some discussion on determining the quality of the journal itself would be helpful. For example, looking at citation counts for the journal, rather than the article would be one example, as would looking at rankings.

Overall, I would see this as an excellent reference book to last students through their academic careers.

The material itself is accurate. However, many of the links to additional material either do not work or are inaccessible to those without OSU credentials.

The material is mainly presented in a way that will last. However, many of the links no longer work so these should be checked and alternatives put in on a regular basis. Additionally, there are links to videos that may not be there in the future, although all I clicked on were available. However, the text description of the videos did not work. Many of the activities (MCQ’s etc) have a dated feel about them in terms of layout and interaction. The design of them could do with some updating.

The writing itself is very clear and easy to understand. Diagrams are used to good effect to clarify concepts (e.g. use of Venn diagrams to explain Boolean concepts). However, some of the terminology is not as clearly defined as it could be. While terms are generally explained clearly in the text, it would be nice to have a glossary of terms. Additionally, the MCQs are not always clear as if the reader gets an answer wrong it is not always apparent which is the correct one.

The book is consistent in writing style and interface.

The book is structured in a modular format whereby the reader can dip in and out of different sections, as they need to. Equally, for a student starting out, it is structured in a way that is likely to follow the steps in the same order as the student, making it a good companion to their research projects.

The book was organised in a very natural and sensible way and flowed smoothly from one topic to another. Links were provided to related sections of the book where relevant so that if the reader forgot what was meant by a particular topic, they could easily hop back and forth. The book started at the very beginning with good coverage of developing a research question and then progressed through tools and sources to help with this. The additional activities were all web based, which works fine if you have easy access. However, I was using a kindle with poor broadband so struggled to access it at times. It also felt a bit disruptive leaving the book to do the activities. It’s also not always clear whether links lead to another part of the book or to an external site. The tips are a useful addition. The stand out when flicking through the book and help to reinforce the important points. It is also useful the ways steps are clearly broken down into sub-steps.

I downloaded it to Kindle, and found a number of issues. It struggled to deal with larger fonts, resulting in some text not being visible.. There were also references to “the bottom of the page” but the bottom of the page varies depending on font size. Not all of the activities worked. Some of the activities required OSU credentials to access them, which was frustrating.

There were some minor grammatical and typographical errors but nothing major.

The book is very US centric in its use of examples. For example, there is an American football example and news sources referred to are US based generally. Additionally, copyright discussion is US centric.

Overall, I found this to be an excellent book that will help students in their research projects. I think it is a book that they will use for a number of years as it is has sufficient depth to help at different levels. The one main change I would make would be to broaden OSU references and activities so they are referring to databases in general, for example, rather than simply talking about the OSU one. Much of the material is relevant regardless of institution but a reader unfamiliar with databases would not be aware of this and might skip over some very useful information.

Reviewed by Anthony Patterson, Assistant Professor, North Carolina Central University on 2/1/18

Choosing and Using Sources is an extremely thorough text taking readers through the research process from formulating research questions to fair use and copy right issues. I particularly liked the online examples and resources including quizzes... read more

Choosing and Using Sources is an extremely thorough text taking readers through the research process from formulating research questions to fair use and copy right issues. I particularly liked the online examples and resources including quizzes and videos. The table of contents is thorough but there is not a glossary. While this is a strong text some discussion of theory and how theoretical frameworks are used in academic writing.

While the text could have addressed additional areas, the authors were accurate and detailed. Chapter 8 - How to Cite Sources is well done and accurately takes novel researchers through when they should and should not provide citations.

The authors present how to develop, approach, and conduct sound research in a well thought out format. This text is up-to-date addressing issues like Wikipedia and Google Scholar. While issues around these information sources will change, the way this text is set up, it can easily be updated in the future.

The book is well written, clear, and easy to follow. Jargon such as primary, secondary, and tertiary sources were explained clearly with appropriate examples. This text will be accessible for my students and most others pursuing advanced degrees.

The authors are consistent throughout the text when discussing topics like presenting arguments and the relationship this has with concepts like research questions and the sources researcher select. While consistency is expected is difficult to do especially when writing as a team. More impressively is the consistency of supplemental materials throughout the text.

The book has long chapters and occasionally I had some difficulty knowing where one section ended and another began but overall it is readily divisible. Another important aspect of the text are the supplemental materials like online quizzes and videos which are also clearly align with the sections in the text.

I was skeptical at first when I began reading but the overall organization of this text is good. Even though the text is about writing and sources, a section of theory and incorporating theoretical frameworks would have strengthen the book. However the topics selected flowed well and led potential researchers through a logical process.

A few problems linking to sum supplemental materials but overall I was impressed by the quality of the graphics as well as the links to quizzes and videos that were provided.

I did not come across any grammatical or typographical issues.

I did not see any cultural insensitive examples or information provided. However I also did not see a lot of racial or ethnic diversity in examples throughout this text. Overall, I feel the authors approached the subject matter appropriately.

Reviewed by Rachelle Savitz, Assistant Professor, Clemson University on 2/1/18

The text is quite comprehensive regarding finding, using, and understanding sources. It provides the process of sourcing from start to finish with examples and activities provided throughout to support the reader. Various ways to find sources... read more

The text is quite comprehensive regarding finding, using, and understanding sources. It provides the process of sourcing from start to finish with examples and activities provided throughout to support the reader. Various ways to find sources are described. There is a focus throughout on software and databases for the students at the authors institution and that can be confusing to readers from other institutions. The information provided regarding citing, ethics and copyright, and fair use was informative and would be beneficial to the reader. There were sections throughout that could have been more in depth and more specific. For instance, when going over the various ways to cite sources, additional examples could be provided and the version/edition should be listed. For instance, was the APA citation in APA 6th edition format? Also, make sure to address citing from secondary sources as students do this often and tend to cite what they read even if they read it from another text. The TOC was helpful and allowed ease of understanding what was to be covered in each section. One main complain that I have was regarding the additional information provided to help the reader in writing a paper. This information would be helpful for basic college writing but not for academic writing, thesis or dissertation writing. The sections required for some of these papers are not discussed and the text eludes that the sections provided regarding writing an argumentative piece would be appropriate for all. Also, synthesizing information could be explained a bit more and with more depth. Synthesizing includes more than critiquing and summarizing. All in all, the sourcing information is spectacular and the additional information could be expanded upon.

Accuracy of sourcing was spot on. Some of the additional categories discussed, as mentioned in the first section of this review, could be expanded upon to fully explain that category, if it is to be included in the book. The examples and activities provided were quite good and would be very beneficial for students to apply what they are learning in real-life contexts. Links were provided for extending information. I did not attempt to open every link but making sure they are up-to-date will be important as time goes forward. I also feel that the section on popular texts can be misleading. Stating that the Washington Post is "popular" eludes that it is not reliable or valid. This is not necessarily true as many experts in various fields write sections in "popular" newspapers.

As previously stated, a lot of links go to OSU resources. This could be problematic for any reader that is not at OSU. More information should be provided to support any student in the world as that part would be confusing to many students.

The text is easy to read and follow. All new information is explained and then examples and activities are provided. This is student friendly and allows any reader to quickly follow along and understand what is being stated, especially regarding the sourcing elements. As stated above, there are some sections that could/should be expanded upon for clarity and this might be best for beginning university students but the text was easy to understand in regards to sourcing, citing, and fair use. More information on how to use the sources and sections of papers would be beneficial to all students.

Each chapter seemed to follow a similar structure that followed the TOC.

Modularity rating: 3

Reading the book online provides ability to chunk the text based on assignments and can be read chapter by chapter, entirety or starting at different places. Due to the extensive amount of outside links and examples, this would be quite different if read in paper format. This book truly has to be read online to ensure benefit from all of the additional activities, links, examples, sources, etc. In addition, the many links specific to OSU would not be helpful for other students.

The organization is consistent from chapter to chapter. Information is explained and then examples and activities are provided to further knowledge. This works well for readers that needs examples.

Using a laptop provided no issues. However, when using a smartphone, the pages changed in size and various display features did not load properly or at all.

Very few grammatical errors were noticed.

No cultural issues noticed other than the many OSU references and sources. This could be offensive to other institutions as they will not be able to access many of the links.

Reviewed by Scott Rice, Associate Professor, Appalachian State University on 2/1/18

The book is very comprehensive which sometimes detracted from its usefulness. There were a few units that may be superfluous, but I did appreciate that the author seemed to err on the side of inclusivity, leaving it to other adoptees how much... read more

The book is very comprehensive which sometimes detracted from its usefulness. There were a few units that may be superfluous, but I did appreciate that the author seemed to err on the side of inclusivity, leaving it to other adoptees how much content they might use and repurpose.

The book is error-free and appears to be free of bias.

The book is pitched to an Ohio State University audience, so some of the resources pointed to would not be the same as a potential adopter's institution might select. In addition, the book needs some updating regarding the impact of social media on the information cycle. Social media formats are mentioned, but a fuller treatment of how they fit into the information climate would be a good addition.

The text was clear and easy to read, and provided numerous examples for its points. It also did not rely on jargon in its explanations, which makes it much more accessible.

The text was consistent in its use of terms. I found its tone consistent, as well as the level of explanation for the wide variety of concepts explored.

The organization of the text into units makes it very easy to break the content apart into smaller units and use it for a variety of purposes. I could see using the content for different parts of several courses, as well as incorporating it into e-learning content.

The topics are presented in a logical fashion, following the path that a typical research assignment might take. This will also make it easier to fit within the flow of a course that uses the textbook to teach about the process of academic research.

The interface of the text itself works appropriately, but some of the ancillary quizzes and extra material did not work so well. Many of the graphics did not work as well within the pdf format as they do in the web format.

The textbook was free of grammatical errors and was easy to read.

The text did not appear to be culturally insensitive.

I am exploring the creation of a for-credit information literacy class at my institution and this book is a possible candidate for adoption for the course.

Reviewed by Bryan Gattozzi, Lecturer, General Studies Writing, Bowling Green State University on 2/1/18

I was impressed how the text began helping students understand the benefits of leading a research project by writing research question(s), following with assessment of research methods, and thinking about research writing as an avenue to test a... read more

I was impressed how the text began helping students understand the benefits of leading a research project by writing research question(s), following with assessment of research methods, and thinking about research writing as an avenue to test a hypothesis instead of one simply confirming a previous, and perhaps uninformed, belief.

The book didn't seem to dismiss any possible research method. Instead it provided suggestions of how and when any individual research method may be relevant.

The book was published last academic year and the content included is still relevant, mostly because best-practices in research (and research writing) haven't changed much.

The volume of research methods students can use given the internet's power is ever increasing, yet the book does well to isolate a handful of long standing tenets that academic writers have used for decades while allowing for discussion of web-based writing and multi-modal presentation methods instructors may increasingly require students to use.

Each section is concise, clear, and easy to follow . . . for me.

I assume students will be capable of reading the text, performing quizzes provided, and plotting out a research path to complete their assignment(s).

Then again, as an academic I obsess over these issues. I can see a student yawning while reading this text.

The content isn't especially fun to read yet the information provided in relevant and time-saving if students are willing to relax, read actively, and apply the material to the assignment their instructor has given.

I don't imagine many students would seek the book out and read about research methods, yet an instructor can pair excerpts from the book with specific assignments along a student's research path to help the student retain and apply the helpful suggestions in the book.

The text does well to allow students to name the process they're going through when composing a research question then deciding on what research path fits their question. Students are guided to consider what blend of qualitative / quantitative, primary / secondary / tertiary, or public / professional / scholarly research will fit their research and writing goals.

The book refers back to the same terms throughout and provides students with active learning worksheets to plot a research AND writing plan to complete their work, one they could conceivably follow throughout their academic and professional career.

Each subheading contains, on average, not more than a page of content allowing instructors the ability to easily limit reading assignments from the book to concise, focused sections.

The book is very process-based, and follows the workflow necessary to write a successful academic researched assignment.

The limit of this strategy might be students being overwhelmed with so much discussion of process they'd be paralyzed to inaction.

An instructor, then, would have to be direct in assigning reading materials relevant to a student's immediate research goal.

I like how the text follows the path a student would follow: from narrowing a research question, selecting and reviewing research materials, then choosing how to implement them ethically in writing.

It also details how to process research considerations students may not consider including how to archive research results, to respect copyright law when publishing blog posts or submitting student work to an online repository.

The text contains many online activities, sample research artifacts, and instructional handouts. Some require on Ohio State student authentication. The text is still useful without access to these materials, though an instructor would have to alert students to this issue.

Text was proofread well.

Didn't see any culturally insensitive content.

Reviewed by Jonathan Grunert, Assistant Professor of Library Services: Information Literacy Coordinator, Colorado State University - Pueblo on 2/1/18

This textbook covers the concepts found in the ACRL frameworks in a way that is meaningful and accessible to academic researchers at all levels. It adequately provides a discussion of the complete research process, with clear signposts as to which... read more

This textbook covers the concepts found in the ACRL frameworks in a way that is meaningful and accessible to academic researchers at all levels. It adequately provides a discussion of the complete research process, with clear signposts as to which steps writers might need to revisit to improve their work.

The content appears to be accurate to 2016, with some acknowledgement that finding sources is an activity that has seen many changes in the past few decades, and will likely seem more, and rapidly.

Information discovery and retrieval is a rapidly changing process in a changing field. But much of the content in this textbook—as far as general advice and instruction for finding resources and the ways to use them—remains relevant. As information processes change and as information uses change, I have no doubt that librarians will be at the forefront of maintaining the relevance of a textbook like this one through various edition changes.

This textbook is clear, and accessible to researchers at all levels. Jargon, where present, is well-explained, and the contexts for the various components of the textbook are provided.

The text and frameworks in this book are consistent with ACRL frameworks as well as with the ways librarians tend to talk about finding and using sources. Furthermore, the book consistently uses the same terminologies to clearly explain sometimes difficult practices.

I would be very comfortable using any chapter of this book to teach a component of the academic research process. The chapters are discrete, with well-defined boundaries. The modularity of this textbook helps reinforce the overarching idea in this book: the iterative research process. Students might read the chapters in virtually any order, and come away with a valuable understanding of the research process.

This textbook presents the research process in the way that many students and faculty think about the process—from the perspective of the end goal, and through the organizational structure of an academic paper. But, it also indicates throughout the process places when the researcher needs to revisit an earlier step, to modify the project, or to make the end product more meaningful.

No issues in the interface; nothing distracting from the content.

Some minor punctuation errors, but no grammatical errors that distract from the content.

This textbook comes from an American perspective for ways of searching for, retrieving, and using information, as well as the traditionally American ways of constructing arguments. Though there is not discussion of other cultural ways of arguing academically, this textbook does not dismiss or otherwise denigrate other cultures; nor is it insensitive in any way.

Many examples are university-specific to the libraries at Ohio State University, as should be expected from a textbook such as this. As such, this book will be most helpful to students using the book at OSU. However, instructors using this book need to be aware of this focus, and must prepare to supplement with materials accessible by researchers outside OSU.

Reviewed by Susan Nunamaker, Lecturer, Clemson University on 2/1/18

This textbook is comprehensive. It goes in-depth covering the topics of research questions (specifically how to narrow down topics), types of sources, sources and information needs, precision searching, search tools, evaluating sources, ethical... read more

This textbook is comprehensive. It goes in-depth covering the topics of research questions (specifically how to narrow down topics), types of sources, sources and information needs, precision searching, search tools, evaluating sources, ethical use of sources, how to cite sources, making an argument, writing tips, copyright basics, fair use, and roles of resource sources. The textbook hits all of the topics that I plan to cover in my upcoming classroom-based research course with the exception of techniques for completing and writing a literature review. The textbook touches on the topic through a section on "background reading", but does not go in-depth. Otherwise, the textbook covers every aspect of academic research.

I found no errors or bias issues in my initial first read of the textbook.

The information and techniques provided within this textbook are up-to-date and relevant for academic research. I reviewed several textbooks before choosing this one for my upcoming masters-level classroom-based research course. I chose this book because of its relevance in regard to the practical skills needed in order to complete research assignments within the course, as well as, writing a capstone research paper.

This textbook is clear and exceptionally readable. It is organized by research skills in an order that makes sense to the reader. For example, the book begins with a chapter on choosing one's research question. Verbiage is clear and concise for all levels of academia to be able to effectively utilize this text.

This textbook is consistent in terms of terminology and framework. Each chapter of the textbook builds on the last. The reader is not necessarily expected to have prior knowledge of research before reading chapter one, but should easily be able to have a good frame of reference for academic research by the end of the textbook due to its high-quality framework for scaffolding knowledge with each chapter.

This textbook does a great job of sectioning academic research into small bites for the reader. It was easy for me to create modules from the textbook's chapters, spreading the information within the text over an 8-week course. The modularity of this textbook was a selling point for utilizing the textbook with students.

This is a well-organized textbook. Each chapter builds on prior chapters. Chapters are organized in a logical manner. The first chapter begins with the purpose of research questions and builds content to assist the reader in narrowing down options for research questions. The textbook progresses to assist the reader in building skills as an academic researcher throughout the textbook.

No interface issues were discovered during my initial exposure to the online format. I printed the PDF (because I still love paper) and all display features printed properly. The online navigation is easy to use and pleasing to the eye, as well.

No grammar issues were detected during my initial review of the textbook.

This text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in my opinion.

This is an excellent textbook if you are looking to utilize it to introduce students to the academic research and writing process. Its layout and design and conducive to module-based instruction, and the content is well thought out and beneficial.

Reviewed by Diane Kauppi, Library Faculty, Technical Services & Systems, Ruth A Myers Library at Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College on 2/1/18

The text did a great job of covering the subject and the table of contents were laid out well. The content was well thought out. read more

The text did a great job of covering the subject and the table of contents were laid out well. The content was well thought out.

I found the accuracy to be good. The content is a good representation of what a student needs to know in order better understanding library research.

The content itself is good & should stand the test of time for the near future. The only exception is that even though it's only one year from the publishing date (2016) many of the links are broken. And I would have preferred a OER text that was geared more generally for application to any institution vs. the inclusion of OSU specific references, links, resources.

For a text written to a 4-year university/college audience the text was good. For a 2-year community college audience some of the terminology would need to be defined.

I found the consistency to be good. It followed through each section with including tips, activities, etc.

I think the modularity was good. And the text could easily be broken down into smaller sections to be used as units by themselves or refresher units. The only issue would be where there are links within a module that link to other modules. Add to this that these links didn't work-- I rec'd errors each time I tried a module link.

The overall organization and flow as great. As stated on p 6 ("... as though you are conducting a research project while reading them [the sections]...") this made my logical side happy.

I like the links to activities for students to practice the skills being taught. The problem though was that many of the links no longer work. Additionally, many of the links are to areas not available to users who are not affiliated with OSU. And as mentioned in another review section, module links to other modules didn't work either.

I found the grammar to be quite good with only a few exceptions or where it was clunky at times.

I thought the text was neutral in this area. Nothing that blatantly jumped out at me.

I appreciated the link to application of research to other areas of our lives outside of academic research. I try to get this point across to students, especially when they are hesitant and resistant to library research. I found the "tips" & "summaries" to be a nice added 'pop' & easy for referring back to later. I liked the bold letters/words for emphasis. And the suggestion to "brush up" on p 31 was a nice touch vs outwardly assuming they don't know. The downloadable templates are a great resource for students. Overall, I found the text to be a good resource.

Reviewed by Kristine Roshau, Instructional Technology Specialist and PT Faculty Librarian, Central Oregon Community College on 8/15/17

This text is extensive! Like the title suggests, it truly is a full guide to academic research, from developing a topic, finding sources, and using them appropriately. It also follows the logical order of the search process, from identifying an... read more

This text is extensive! Like the title suggests, it truly is a full guide to academic research, from developing a topic, finding sources, and using them appropriately. It also follows the logical order of the search process, from identifying an information need, evaluating source quality (and purpose), and how to perform complex searches. It also highlights several common areas where academic research can be performed, from the college library catalog to specialized databases and how to find academic sources on the free web.

The book also covers what to do once sources have been found, including the importance of properly citing sources, ethical use of source material, and how to cite unusual or non-standard source material. It then moves into addressing the writing process: developing an argument and idea, writing tips, and a large section on copyright, fair use, creative commons, and public domain.

The table of contents is very granular, which is helpful. The sections vary in length, but given the overall size of the book (190 pages) having a very specific TOC is useful when returning to the text as a reference source.

I did not find any objectionable or questionable content. The authors have done a good job of selecting examples for each section (often with associated online activities or examples linked out to the web) that are varied and unbiased, but also represent realistic examples of what students might be encountering during their research process. I was really pleased when looking through the section on citing sources - styles can change, but the book is written in such a way as to be comprehensive about the purpose of citing sources, and links out to many helpful web sources, citation tools, etc so the information will remain accurate in the textbook even if the style guides themselves are updated in the future.

The section on copyright is similarly done.

See previous note - it is clear the authors have taken care to include examples that will remain relevant, not evaporate into popular culture, and provide flexibility where the content may be updated or changes (such as copyright law and citation style guides). They do provide a LOT of external links and activities, not all produced by Ohio State. So it's possible that some of their links may break in the future. It does appear that they have made an effort to either link to open sources they control, or which are unlike to change significantly (ie: government websites).

If I were using this text, I would probably modify some of the resource sections (eg: databases) to reflect those that the students at my institution have access to, though the writers do make a point of identifying OSU access-only resources where applicable. I would also update the copyright/plagiarism section to include our college's student handbook blurbs, etc.

The tone is extremely approachable in all of the areas I checked. This is extremely important in academic research where there are a lot of areas of possible legal entanglement, and the authors have done a credible job of breaking down complex concepts into approachable prose and examples.

The textbook is consistent in both writing and structure; however, I do with the table of contents was split into sections in the same way the content is. Page numbers are given though, so that's not really a big deal. There were one or two places where I saw formatting errors, but nothing overly distracting - it did not adversely effect the content.

It is visually appealing and for the most part, easy to navigate. No huge blocks of text, and it also intersperses activities, tips, and examples. The text is also organized in such a way that it can be used as a reference, without needing to be read from start to finish in order to make sense, which is helpful for the researcher who may need to pop in for just pieces of the work.

However, there is a strong presence of external sources (often OSU library webpages) and activities that are linked out of the text. The writing itself is certainly standalone, but the book would lose a lot of its character if it were printed and not viewed digitally. I would have liked a References or bibliographic section that listed some of these resources, but there wasn't one, meaning the user would not be able to search for the resource if the linked text didn't work.

I can see the potential for too many asides for activities to be distracting, but they are generally held to the end of their relevant sections, so it wasn't too overwhelming. The organization follows a logical research process, walking the reader through from beginning to end.

As mentioned before, there are a few places where it looks like images have distorted the intended formatting, pushing items to empty pages, etc. But these instances are rare. A few of the images could be higher resolution, but they were certainly legible (and I was viewing this text at 125% zoom on a larger screen, so my experience is probably not representative of every reader).

It is long though, and I would have loved to be able to jump to sections through anchor bookmarks in the content page - that would be a nice touch.

I also found a few broken links, which is not totally surprising, given the volume of them in this book.

None noticed in this review.

No objectionable content found - the authors have chosen inclusive examples wherever possible, while remaining realistic about subjects students might be researching.

Not all of the links to activities are self-describing (there are no plain URLs, but many of the activity links contain the same 'Open Activity in Web Browser' text, which would be confusing if a user was navigating with a screen reader.

Reviewed by Deborah Finkelstein, Adjunct Professor, George Mason University on 6/20/17

The book is very comprehensive. The authors consistently explain concepts well and provide easy-to-understand examples that are approachable for the undergraduate audience. For example, the authors don’t just say, “narrow down your source,” they... read more

The book is very comprehensive. The authors consistently explain concepts well and provide easy-to-understand examples that are approachable for the undergraduate audience. For example, the authors don’t just say, “narrow down your source,” they go through steps to narrow it down, walking students through the process. (p 9) Very thorough. They also spend a page and a half giving examples of “Regular Question” vs. “Research Question.” (p 13-14) This ensures that students will understand the difference. They also do well with explaining fact vs. option, objective vs. subjective, primary vs. secondary vs. tertiary sources, popular vs. professional vs. scholarly magazines, when to quote vs. paraphrase vs. summarize, and other concepts that are critical to performing research.

The book does not have an index. The table of contents is quite thorough and very useful in understanding the breakdown of the book or locating certain topics.

The book is error-free.

There are many digital examples in the text. As long as authors make updates as technology inevitably changes in the future, the book should remain relevant.

The book has a conversational tone that is connective, trustworthy, and approachable for the undergraduate audience. This makes it easy to read and easy to understand.

The book is very consistent with tone, and terminology.

In the introduction, the book encourages students to “jump around a bit in this guide to meet your needs.” (p 5). The book stays true to this idea. Students could read the book straight through, but it is well-designed for “jumping around.” The sections stand alone, and instructors could easily assign sections in the book out of order. This book could be used as the only textbook in a classroom, or an instructor could use these modules to supplement an existing textbook. Topics are easily found in the book thanks to an excellent table of contents, a clear organizational structure, and a great use of headers.

The book is well-organized and follows a logical structure. Individual topics are also well-organized. The authors break processes into step-by-step, making is easy for students to learn.

Great use of visual aids. For example, there is a chart on how to narrow down research topic (p 9), and a chart on the roles of resources in research (p 179). These items are great for visual learners, and they make the text come alive while emphasizing important concepts.

The book shares links to outside sources. This provides students that would like more information that is beyond the book with resources. It additionally provides students links to activities, such as one that asks them if a source is primary, secondary, or tertiary (p 34). On occasion, it links to outside companies, such as citation management software, news outlets, and social media, making the book a resource. In this way, the book utilizes the medium of a digital book.

The book is free of grammatical errors.

The book is culturally sensitive. The book is designed for Ohio University students. Examples given occasionally apply to Ohio, such as when the authors are providing examples of newspapers, they list two out of six that are from Ohio, including the campus newspaper (p 43) There is also a link to the OSU Libraries’ newspaper database (p 44), and when talking about citation management software, they mention the three that are available at OSU. It’s not a large enough issue that one should not use the book; it’s still easy to understand, but it is a limitation and worth mentioning to students.

I teach a 300-level English class on performing research and writing research papers. I plan to utilize this book next semester due to the excellent organization of modules, the approachable tone, and the great explanations and examples.

Reviewed by Constance Chemay, Head of Public Services, Library Services; Asst. Professor, User Instruction, River Parishes Community College, Gonzales, LA on 6/20/17

The book does an excellent job covering the subject, and even goes beyond what its title suggests, with chapters on writing and formulating an argument. The chapters on copyright and fair use are exceptional. However, it lacks both a glossary and... read more

The book does an excellent job covering the subject, and even goes beyond what its title suggests, with chapters on writing and formulating an argument. The chapters on copyright and fair use are exceptional. However, it lacks both a glossary and an index. Some terms are defined in their appropriate chapters, but not all. Some students, particularly first-year or those who may be enrolled in developmental courses, would benefit greatly from a glossary. The activities, while appropriate for their contexts, are mixed in their effectiveness; some provide good feedback with clarification, but most offer little more than a smiley face for a correct answer or an “x” for a wrong answer with no other feedback.

For the most part, this book is accurate and unbiased, but one area where I noticed discrepancies is the chapter on citing sources. MLA released its 8th edition in April 2016, yet the examples provided are 7th edition. I also noticed errors in the example for APA; only the first word, proper nouns, and those following major punctuation marks are to be capitalized in article titles following APA formating guidelines. Regarding bias, the book is unbiased; however, I disagree with the discussion of news sources regarding mainstream versus non-mainstream (or mainline as used in the text); main-stream media includes "traditional" sources, e.g., television, newspapers, and radio, as opposed to online sources, especially social media. The authors’ inclusion of Fox News, a right-leaning national television news network, a contemporary of CBS, NBC, and ABC, as non-mainline rather than mainline shows bias, in my opinion. It’s difficult to find news from any news source, mainstream or not, right, left or center, that doesn’t have some bias or opinions in its reporting.

This textbook itself is written so that it will be relevant for a long time. However, there are some exceptions. The discussion of citation styles uses examples for MLA that reflect the 7th edition rather than the 8th, which was released in April 2016. The book covers this discrepancy somewhat with its tip regarding choosing a citation style, with its remarks that styles do change and its recommendation to check with one’s instructors. Another issue is the potential for link rot regarding external websites; in fact there are a few dead links in the text and activities already. A couple of online resources mentioned and linked to, IPL2 and the Statistical Abstracts of the US, have been retired for at least a couple of years, which makes me wonder about when the book was actually last reviewed edited.

The book is well-written, easy to read, conversational. Most technical language is defined and used appropriately.

This book is consistent in terms of its terminology and framework.

This book is extremely modular in its organization at the chapter level and within the chapters. It can be easily reordered to meet specific course or instructor needs. It does refer to other sections of the text, but these references are appropriate, emphasizing more in-depth information elsewhere in the book. Sections that are unique to OSU can be replaced/revised to make the text relevant to other institutions as needed.

It is well organized and reflects the processes and stages of research. While the research process is not linear, the topics are presented in a logical manner that guides students through the process. I did note that a couple of sections in chapter 7, on ethical use of sources don’t really seem to fit there, however. The paragraphs on page 118 discussing a lack of understanding of the materials and lack of time might fit better in other chapters.

While the online version works well, the PDF format has issues. Some of the in-text navigation links work (the TOC links) while others found throughout the text don’t, often giving an “error: unknown export format” message. There are also a few dead links in both the online and PDF formats, as well as in some of the online activities. Some links direct users to OSU Libraries’ resources, either their catalog or their licensed databases, but not all such links are clearly identified as such.

Grammatical Errors rating: 3

For the most part, this text is well-written, grammatically; however, it does have a few grammatical/typographical errors, possibly more than one might expect from a text of this length, and assuming that the author is most likely a committee rather than an individual, more eyes reviewing the text should catch such errors. There are also instances of tense inconsistencies, shifting from present to past in the same sentence. Two paragraphs on page 47, under “Finding Data in Articles . . .,” repeat the same four sentences verbatim in different order. This occurs again on page 88. While these are not grammatical errors, they are certainly editorial errors. Most of the online activities have typos, as well, more so than the textbook.

This textbook is not culturally insensitive or offensive.

I do like this book. I think it puts the topic in terms that students can readily use and understand. I'd even recommend the chapters on copyright and fair use to faculty! I do think that it could benefit from the inclusion of a glossary and an index, as well as regular and frequent review, especially in regards to the linked resources. The PDF version definitely needs revisions since it seems that most of the in-text referral links throughout the text don’t work. Since it is tailored to OSU’s library resources, any instruction librarian using the book can substitute content relevant to his/her institution; non-library faculty using the text can consult their own librarians for help with this.

Reviewed by Dawn Kennedy, Ed.S, Health Education, Anoka-Ramsey Community College on 4/11/17

Choosing &amp; Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research serves as an excellent guide for teaching the research process. It takes the learner through the process of academic research and writing in an easy to understand manner. As an educator... read more

Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research serves as an excellent guide for teaching the research process. It takes the learner through the process of academic research and writing in an easy to understand manner. As an educator in a community college setting, I am working with students who are new to the research process. This text will be useful when working with students to start developing the appropriate process of research writing. The text has neither a back-of-the-book index nor a glossary. It is beneficial that key terms are defined throughout the chapters.

The information presented in the text is accurate at this point in time and unbiased. One concern is that some of The information presented in the text is accurate at this point in time and unbiased. One concern is that some of the links do not work.

Content is up-to-date at this point in time. Most examples and exercises are arranged separately from the main text and can be updated as needed. Some of the content links to the Ohio State University Libraries databases which may not be assessable to students outside that institution.

This text is clearly written, well-illustrated, and user-friendly for the undergraduate audience. It avoids technical jargon and provides definitions where appropriate.

Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research is consistent in terms of terminology and framework.

Regarding the book’s modularity, users of this text can be selective in chapter choice. In this sense the text is useful to instructors and students who wish to focus on a single component and /or use the text as a reference. For a better understanding of the research process in its entirety, reading the text in the order written may prove to be more beneficial.

The text's organization mirrors the research process in a logical, clear manner. Chapters 1-8 lead the reader through the basics of research literacy and research skills; chapters nine and ten explain the process for making an argument and writing tips; Subsequent chapters zero in on copyright and Fair Use information. Key concepts and points are supported with highlights, examples and colorful illustrations.

The text displays generous use of visuals which are clear and free of distortion. The activities provided support the concepts and skills being addressed and are easy to navigate. One concern is the activities which are linked to Ohio State University may not provide access to all, resulting in limited access of information and frustration for the reader.

• The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.

This is a text does an excellent job of explaining the research process in a logical manner. The text uses examples, illustrations, and skill practice to support the learning process. I recommend this text for use in it's entirely for teaching and learning the research process and as a resource for the rest of us.

Reviewed by Scott Miller, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Rogue Community College on 4/11/17

The book is very comprehensive and even goes beyond what might be expected in this kind of textbook. Along with choosing and using sources, the authors include a section on making an argument. Topics are dealt with appropriately and the text... read more

The book is very comprehensive and even goes beyond what might be expected in this kind of textbook. Along with choosing and using sources, the authors include a section on making an argument. Topics are dealt with appropriately and the text employs tests and activities along the way. I found some of the activities were not particularly well designed and sometimes answers to questions were based on assumptions by the authors as to context that in real life may or may not be appropriate. For instance, they claim that the periodical/journal title "Coral Reefs" is a scholarly journal, but judging by the title alone in a real life exercise there is no way to know whether it is scholarly or popular in nature.

There could have been more discussion about context and how it defines whether a sources is primary, secondary or tertiary. '

What the this textbook does not have is any kind of index or glossary, which I found disappointing.

I did not find any instances of inaccuracies in the text. I did find, however, some assumptions in the text that were not always warranted. I took issue with the assumption that mainline news sources are objective (p. 42). It is very clear that news articles are often biased. I think telling students that mainline news sources are objective effectively disarms instead of promotes critical thinking by students doing research.

On page 126 there is a discussion about using quotations where the authors say that all quotes are to be put within quotation marks. This is not true of block quotes in MLA or APA style and they omit any mention of it.

This textbook should retain its relevancy for several years, but it will lose its effectiveness very soon, since many of the dozens and dozens of links in the text will surely break before long. In the short term the links are a great feature, but they do severely limit the longevity of the book. I also found them annoyingly pervasive.

It should also be noted that the MLA citation example on page 122 uses the outdated MLA 7th edition guidelines.

Overall, I thought the book was very clearly written and easy to follow. The one section I struggled reading was the section on sources and information need. It seemed to want much more editing and was often wordy and almost obscure.

I did not notice any lack of consistency in terminology or framework.

This is one the book's strengths. It was clearly organized into topics and subtopics which sometimes could be addressed in an order chosen by an instructor. There were, however, occasional self-references to earlier sections or previously used external sources.

Moving from the simpler aspects of choosing and evaluating sources to the more complex uses of them and how arguments are constructed made good sense.

Interface rating: 2

I found the interface to have significant problems. At least a dozen links would not work from the PDF text when opened in Firefox. I often got the message, "error: unknown export format." The links seemed to work when viewing the text online, however.

The textbook's usefulness outside of Ohio State is severely limited by the frequent use of sources only available through OSU student logins. The textbook was written for OSU students, but it really fails as a textbook for any other institution unless it is significantly modified.

I found a few missing punctuation marks, and only two missing or wrong words in sentences. For a textbook this long, that's very good.

The textbook used interesting and non-offensive examples.

While it's a good textbook for choosing and using information sources it suffers from being too specifically written for OSU students, as well as including an overabundance of links that will reduce its longevity. Not including any kind of index or glossary is also a drawback.

Reviewed by Vanessa Ruccolo, Advanced Instructor of English, Virginia Tech on 2/8/17

Ch. 1 has a great overview of regular versus research questions and the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. Ch. 2 covers primary, secondary, and tertiary sources as well as popular, professional, and scholarly. Ch. 3... read more

Ch. 1 has a great overview of regular versus research questions and the difference between qualitative and quantitative research. Ch. 2 covers primary, secondary, and tertiary sources as well as popular, professional, and scholarly. Ch. 3 includes a source plan (i.e. what do you need the sources for and what is your plan). Ch. 4 gives tips and hints for searching on a library database. Ch. 5 gives different search options, like the library or Google Scholar. Ch. 6 is all about evaluating the sources you find, including clues about sussing out bias and thoroughness, as well as discussing currency of topic. Ch. 7 discusses why you should cite sources. Ch. 8 discusses ways to cite sources. Ch. 9 is looking at argument as dialog and what is necessary in that exchange and a recommended order of components. Ch. 10 covers quoting, paraphrasing,and summarizing and signal phrases. Ch. 11, 12 are copyright and fair use. Ch. 13 covers the roles or research.

I will use Ch. 1 and 2 in my classes, as I think the breakdown of research is useful and clear. Ch. 3 also has useful imbedded tools that will help students plan; Ch. 4 and 5 might be used as references post-library visit. I will also use Ch. 6 and Ch. 10.

I think the information provided for distinguishing scholarly, popular, and professional is helpful and I hope the resources help students understand good, reliable sources a bit better. The same is true for searching for sources, and I think the sections on search engines and evaluation of sources are going to be quite useful.

While the information on copyright, fair use, and why and ways to cite sources is fine, I won't be using these for my English classes as I find them not as helpful or relevant.

I think the book is quite accurate in terms of information provided. They use sources that both I and my students use, so clearly the book is addressing real needs in the classroom. It also makes suggestions that reinforce the concepts our librarians share with the students and instructors, so I find this to be extremely helpful.

The book suggests Purdue OWL, a source I also use; however, I realized this year that OWL was behind in updating some of the MLA citation changes. So that's something maybe for the book authors to note or address when recommending websites.

With that said, I think the book covers key specifics like university library websites, Google Scholar, and search engines, in broad enough terms to keep it relevant. Also, the graphics are simple and not dated, and there is one drawing of the "outernet" that shows what social media, Youtube, etc. would look like in the "real, outer" world. This drawing is the only thing I saw that might be dated soon, but its point is still solid.

Very easy to read, clear terminology and explanation of terms, and lists are also provided to help break up each page's prose, which means the information is presented in a visually clear form as well.

I think the consistency of terminology as well as the scaffolding makes sense on the whole. I didn't seem places where the language changed or seemed to have several writers or definitions.

Perhaps one of the best parts of this book is how each chapter is contained, succinct, includes an activity, but still builds on and with the other chapters. Each chapter is stand-alone and clear and easy to read online, or if you chose to print it. The creators clearly had the online reader in mind, however, and the chapter lengths and fonts are comfortable.

Overall, I like the organization, specifically for chapters 10-6. I would change the order of the final chapters so that Ch. 9 and 10 come before Ch. 7, 8, 11, 12. I would also move Ch. 13 "The Roles of Research" to earlier in the book, perhaps around Ch. 3 or Ch. 6. If I use these materials, I will reorder some of the chapters for my class so that the scaffolding and explanations work a bit more side by side.

Again, comfortable, easy-to-read pages, simple graphics and the charts used are helpful and appropriate. I especially appreciated that the authors didn't use images that showed people or figures that could both date the book and also make students feel talked down to - I hate images like this and refuse to use textbooks that incorporate them, so kudos!

Additional resources are easy to access.

I wish the email option (for sending yourself a page) pulled up a screen in which I could type the email I wanted it sent to. Instead, it pulls up Messenger, which I don't use.

The Table of Contents didn't let me jump to the chapter when I pulled down the menu. Was that just my computer/browser?

Now, I didn't read through as though I was grading (it is winter break, after all!) but nothing jumped off the page. If something had, if there had been a mistake, I would still use the text; if there had been several, I would have considered abandoning it for class. However, the information is still so good I i might have told my students to find the grammar mistakes as part of an assignment just so that I could use the research parts still; however, I didn't not see any.

No, nothing. Perhaps if the authors include more examples for citations they could pull from culturally different sources then, but the material here was so broad in terms of textual sources it was in no way exclusive.

I will be using parts of this book in my English classes. Well done to the authors - a helpful, free supplement.

Reviewed by Dale Jenkins, Advanced Instructor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech) on 2/8/17

Having taught freshmen how to write college research papers for the past 18 years, I gave the text high marks on addressing all of the key elements college students need to engage in academic research. read more

Having taught freshmen how to write college research papers for the past 18 years, I gave the text high marks on addressing all of the key elements college students need to engage in academic research.

The text implements content from a host of sources which is extremely useful, but the grammar needs a few tweaks.

This represents a strong aspect of the text. The writers did a good job of winnowing out unnecessary components of the research process, although my freshmen would not delve into the Fair Use and Copyright chapters.

The book gets outstanding marks on clarity. Students will find this to be a definite strength of the text.

The authors did a good job with consistency. I kept my students in mind as I evaluated this aspect of the text.

Students would find this book extremely accessible in terms of modularity. I don't see them being overwhelmed by the text or high-brow jargon.

I noted a logical progression to all thirteen of the chapters. Students in upper-level classes would find the chapters on Fair Use and Copyright more significant in their academic studies.

The hyperlinks and the interactive elements of the book will be extremely appealing to students as well as being substantive.

The book still needs some work in this regard. Pronouns don't always agree with the antecedents, and I noted several shifts in voice in the text.

The text doesn't have any instances of cultural insensitivity, and I pay close attention to this aspect of textbooks when I peruse them for potential use in my courses.

The hyperlinks, using different types of media, and the chapters on "Why Precision Searching?" and the discussion of plagiarism proved to be well-crafted and accessible for students. I also commend the authors for the lack of jargon that would leave students in its wake.

Reviewed by Jarrod Dunham, Instructor - English Composition, Portland Community College on 2/8/17

A very comprehensive guide to the writing of the research paper. I've taught research writing for several years, and this book covers all the material I'd typically cover in a class. Previously I've not used a textbook in that class, but I'm... read more

A very comprehensive guide to the writing of the research paper. I've taught research writing for several years, and this book covers all the material I'd typically cover in a class. Previously I've not used a textbook in that class, but I'm teaching an online section this term and find that the book offers a very effective substitute for the lectured and activities I'd otherwise be presenting in class.

This text is accurate and up-to-date with the most recent developments and issues in the field.

This text is very much up-to-date. It shows an awareness of changing conventions in academic writing, and emphasizes the latest technological tools for researching and managing citations. It frequently links to outside resources, which could be problematic in the event those resources were removed or relocated, but in practice I never encountered such an issue.

Clarity is one of the book's strengths. It is written in clear, simple, and concise prose, resisting the kind of "academese" that is frequently employed in textbooks and gives students a false impression of what academic writing should look like. I found all of the content very easy to understand, and, although it's intended for slightly more advanced classes, accessible for Freshman writing students.

The text is highly consistent, both in terms of the terminology it employs, its organizational structure, and its systematic incorporation of tips, learning activities, and quizzes.

The book is divided into 13 chapters, each of which addresses particular aspects of research writing and can be employed on its own, or in conjunction with other related chapters. I found that assigning chapters in order was generally perfectly appropriate, although there was no issue with assigning the odd chapter out of order - links to previous or later content are provided where appropriate, so students can easily navigate to other relevant sections of the text.

This text is very nicely organized. It moves from the beginning stages of the pre-writing process - choosing a topic and identifying appropriate guiding questions - through the research to the writing of the paper itself. I found that the organizational structure of the text very closely mirrored the structure I use myself in teaching research writing. As such, adopting this text for the course (and adapting the course to the text) was a delightfully straightforward exercise.

The interface of the text is excellent. It is very easy to navigate, very attractive, and all tools work as intended. Some features are only available to those with Ohio State University log-ins, which yields a handful of frustrating moments, but in general I didn't find this to be a significant issue.

The text is error free and written in a simple, accessible, and engaging style. It's not merely an easy read, but one that effectively models clear and concise academic prose for writing students.

To the extent such issues come into play, the text is inclusive and culturally sensitive. The content of the text is mostly neutral on such issues - they simply tend not to come into play - but I was pleased to find a comprehensive chapter on the ethical use of sources, which introduces an ethical dimension to the research and writing process that many students may not anticipate or otherwise be prepared to navigate.

Overall I was quite pleased with this text. In my online section of Research Paper Writing, I have assigned nine of the thirteen chapters, and am very pleased with the breadth of content covered thereby. With one exception, I've been able to assign those chapters in the order they appear in the book, which simplified the planning process for myself, and offers a structure to the course that will be more readily apparent to my students as well. Late chapters on Copyrights Basics and Fair Use struck me as unnecessary and a little off topic, but it is of course easy to simply not assign those chapters, and since this is not a print book they have no bearing on materials costs.

For an online class like the one I am currently teaching, this is an excellent primary text. Even in a face-to-face class it could prove to be a very useful supplemental text. Normally I resist the use of supplemental texts in face-to-face classes, but since this one is free it is ideal for that purpose: instructors and students can simply rely on it to whatever extent feels useful.

Reviewed by Jennifer Lantrip, Reference Librarian, Umpqua Community College on 2/8/17

This book is an excellent source for guiding undergraduate students through the research process, from understanding the purposes for doing research and writing a research question, to composing a thesis and contributing to a scholarly... read more

This book is an excellent source for guiding undergraduate students through the research process, from understanding the purposes for doing research and writing a research question, to composing a thesis and contributing to a scholarly conversation. Students learn where and how to find relevant sources and how to evaluate and use them ethically. The main text is supplemented with links to useful resources, videos, worksheets, examples, and exercises. These are all high quality sources, making this a comprehensive resource for teaching information literacy and the research process. While no index or glossary is provided, terms are well defined within the text. Links are provided to other sections within the text where terms are further discussed.

The content is error-free, unbiased, and accurate. Ideas and concepts are in accordance with the Association of College and Research Libraries’ “Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education,” with the exception of several small sections that could easily be clarified or adapted.

The opening section of Chapter 3 states that researchers should find sources in order to meet their information needs. However, it states that one information need is “to convince your audience that your answer is correct or, at least, the most reasonable answer.” This should be clarified for students so that they understand that they should start their research with an open mind as opposed to looking for sources which support their predetermined thesis.

The section “The Sources to Meet Needs” in Chapter 3 states that convincing one’s audience is an information need and that students should find sources based upon what their audience would be convinced by. Researchers should not choose their sources based upon what would convince their audience, but rather upon what sources best answer their research question. The most relevant and highest quality sources should not be omitted from the research process because the researcher does not think that his/her audience would be convinced by them. It is part of the researcher’s job to educate and convince his/her audience why the chosen sources and the research are relevant and of high quality.

Chapter 13 mentions briefly, “Putting your sources to work for you in these roles can help you write in a more powerful, persuasive way—to, in fact, win your argument.” It is very important for researchers to make convincing arguments through using quality sources, doing quality research, and presenting the information in an understandable way. Students should understand that the goal of scholarly conversation is not to “win” arguments, but rather to contribute to the world’s shared knowledge. While one argument may hold for a time, it will most likely be refined in some way by future researchers.

The main content of each chapter is current and does not contain terms that will soon be outdated. Specific examples and exercises are arranged separately from the main chapter text and can be updated independently. Some of the content discusses and links to Ohio State University Libraries databases which are unavailable to students at other institutions. While some of this knowledge is transferable, the specific information about these databases is unique to OSU Libraries. It would be useful if this information could be generalized in the main flow of the text so that it would be applicable for students at other institutions.

This text is very readable and easy to understand. Concepts are explained clearly. Exercises and examples are provided to help students grasp each new concept. It is written in a casual tone that appears to make an effort to put its readers at ease while giving solid information about how to complete research and writing assignments successfully.

The terminology used in this book and its framework are consistent. Each chapter, chapter sections, examples, and exercises are organized in a consistent manner throughout the book, making it easy to follow. Students can refer to specific sections of the book or read it straight through. Because links are provided to sections of the book where important terms are defined or discussed further, students can easily jump to relevant sections of the book.

The book is divided into chapters and subsections which lead the reader seamlessly and logically through the research process. The book could easily be assigned to be read linearly, but it would also work well for instructors to assign specific chapters as applicable to the course content.

This book takes students through the research process in logical steps, from choosing and refining research questions, to producing and sharing what they have learned. For students who are unfamiliar with the research process, it would be most useful to read the book linearly as each chapter prepares students for future chapters.

This text is easy to navigate in both the PDF and online versions. Images are clear. There are currently no broken links. The contents in the PDF version could be made clearer by making a greater distinction between the main chapter and chapter section titles.

The text has negligible grammatical errors.

This text is not culturally insensitive or offensive.

I highly recommend this book for teaching information literacy and the research process to undergraduates.

Reviewed by Patricia Akhimie, Asst. Prof of English, Rutgers University-Newark on 2/8/17

This textbook does not include an index or glossary but is full-text searchable, returning a an easy to read and access menu of clickable search results to take readers directly to the desired information. In addition, an expandable Table of... read more

This textbook does not include an index or glossary but is full-text searchable, returning a an easy to read and access menu of clickable search results to take readers directly to the desired information. In addition, an expandable Table of Contents for the book is available as a tab so that readers can view an overview of topics and jump to other sections at any time. This textbook offers a review of research methods that is certainly comprehensive. Instructors will likely find that individual sections, rather than the whole work, are most useful in planning lessons and constructing student assignments in research based and writing intensive courses at the undergraduate level.

This textbook is accurate in its representation of research methods and of the reasoning behind these approaches. In addition, details about citation styles, and search tools, seem error-free. Treatments of the more complex aspects of research, such as constructing an argument, are unbiased and thorough.

The textbook should be useful to students and instructors for some time. It should be noted, however, that research software and citation styles are updated, though infrequently. Thus, the video walkthroughs of particular databases, for example, may be obsolete or misleading after some time.

This textbook is remarkably lucid and approachable for undergraduate readers. Discussions of complex ideas are illustrated with useful graphics that readers and instructors will find particularly helpful. The video walkthroughs are perhaps the most attractive illustrations for instructors. These guides will be appealing and easy to use for students intimidated by large databases and their idiosyncrasies.

The textbook is immanently usable. It is consistent in its tone as well as in its use of terms.

It is clear that this textbook has been designed with modularity in mind. Individual sections will be more useful than others, depending on the type and level of the class. In addition, sections can easily be assigned at different points over the course of a semester. For example, sections might be assigned at intervals that reflect the stages of the development of undergraduate student’s independent research paper. The section on formulating research questions might appear early in the semester, the section on citation styles toward the end.

The organization of the book reflects the stages of research. This means that navigating the textbook will be intuitive.

Navigating this textbook will be intuitive, the Table of Contents tab makes moving between sections very easy.

Readers will find the textbook free of simple typos and errors.

Readers will find the textbook inclusive. Some readers may find that the attempt made in the textbook to speak to research in the humanities, social sciences and sciences has meant that discussions can be vague at times but this is to be expected in a textbook on this topic aimed at a broad range of readers and researchers.

Reviewed by Heather Jerónimo, Assistant Professor, University of Northern Iowa on 2/8/17

This text is a comprehensive review of the various types of sources one might need to complete a research project or paper. The book begins with a clear explanation of how to formulate a research question, while the majority of the chapters focus... read more

This text is a comprehensive review of the various types of sources one might need to complete a research project or paper. The book begins with a clear explanation of how to formulate a research question, while the majority of the chapters focus on finding and evaluating sources. The topics in this text are well-chosen and reflect several aspects of academic writing in which beginning researchers might struggle, such as how to do a precision search, understanding biased versus unbiased sources, and how to decide between quoting or paraphrasing. This book is written at a level that undergraduates should easily be able to comprehend, while the content of the chapters gets increasingly detailed and complex throughout the book. There is no index or glossary at the back of the book, but there is a very complete table of contents at the beginning of the text. Readers might find it useful if the chapter titles in the table of contents were in bold, as the detailed breakdown of sections—while helpful—can be overwhelming when one is looking for the main categories of the book.

The text provides helpful and unbiased examples for how to do research in many different areas. The practice activities relate quite well to the content of the chapters, although some links do not work. One of the strengths of the text is its applicability in a general sense to many different types of research.

In most chapters the information is kept very general, allowing the text to enjoy relative longevity, as the process of how to conduct academic research, cite quotes, etc., likely will not change drastically in the near future. For example, in the section on databases, different types of databases are explained, but the author does not reference many specific databases to which students may or may not have access. With an understanding of the concept, students then are equipped to find the databases that pertain to their field and that are offered by their institutions. There are several references to Ohio State throughout the text that will not be helpful to all readers, but they do not impede the reader’s comprehension of the text.

It is a very readable text, written at a level that makes it easily accessible to undergraduate students. The author has avoided jargon that would be confusing to the readers.

Even though the book gives examples of various types of research and sources, it maintains a high level of consistency throughout.

The chapters are clearly divided in a way that allows the reader the option to skip between chapters or to read the chapters in succession. This text could be put to a variety of uses within the classroom. As an instructor, one could use it as a primary text for a Research Methods or Composition class. One could also suggest that students read only certain sections in a class that was not primarily focused on the writing of research papers but that had a research component. This text is a valuable how-to manual that students can reference throughout their academic journey.

The text has a logical organization and flow. The book transitions from more basic information at the beginning to more specialized knowledge in later chapters, allowing students to gradually become more immersed in the topic. The structure permits students to read the text from cover to cover, or to read only the information and chapters about which they are curious. The activities serve as good checkpoints to assess students’ knowledge and break up longer readings.

The interface of the text is easy to manage and does not distract from the content. The placement and accessibility of the activities provide quick and easy checks to assess whether students have understood the concepts of the chapters. The images support the text and are linked closely to the message.

There are few grammatical errors in this text.

The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive. Like many textbooks, it could be more intentional in its inclusion of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds, perhaps in the examples or practice activities.

Reviewed by Dr. William Vann, Information Studies Faculty, Minneapolis Community and Technical College on 12/5/16

While there is neither a back-of-the-book index nor a compiled glossary in this outstanding textbook (key terms are defined, however, throughout the chapters), one cannot deny its comprehensiveness. In fact, this text covers so much ground it is... read more

While there is neither a back-of-the-book index nor a compiled glossary in this outstanding textbook (key terms are defined, however, throughout the chapters), one cannot deny its comprehensiveness. In fact, this text covers so much ground it is unlikely to be used in its entirety for any single college course. Information literacy and research skills courses will find the first eight chapters to be a robust introduction to their subject matter, replete with interactive activities and auto-graded assessments. Composition courses engaged in research-based writing will likely work through the first eight chapters selectively, but then dwell on chapters nine and ten on argument formation and writing. Such courses may also benefit from the excellent chapter thirteen on Joseph Bizup's BEAM method of deploying research sources in scholarly communication. Chapters eleven and twelve on copyright and fair use, respectively, are likely to be used only by advanced undergraduates, faculty, and professional librarians, but they do serve as a handy reference nonetheless.

All of the chapters of this textbook contain authoritative and accurate information, in line with national information literacy standards and sound pedagogical methods for composition and critical thinking. The only section of the text I took issue with was the "Fact or Opinion" part of the second chapter, where the authors try to distinguish between fact, opinion, subjective information, and objective information. The authors' attempt results in claims like "the death penalty is wrong" being rendered as opinions, while claims like "women should stock up on calcium to ensure strong bones" are judged to be subjective information. Facts and objective information are superior, on this way of thinking, because they are the result of research studies, particularly empirical, quantitative ones.

I suspect that this way of drawing the distinction would do little to challenge the naive relativism most undergraduates bring to the classroom. (How many of us, when analyzing a text with beginning undergraduates, have had to entertain the question "Isn't that just the author's opinion though?") A better approach would be to talk about claims that are empirically justified (facts), claims that are justified, but not empirically (value judgments - "x is wrong", prescriptive claims - "women should do x"), and claims that are not adequately justified by any means (opinions). In this way, answering a research question like "Is the death penalty unjust?" is not merely an exercise in subjective opinion-making, but rather an exploration of reasoned argumentation, only some of which may be empirical or based on research studies.

The text is current and will likely be so for some time. Examples, activities, and tips are marked off from the main chapter prose, so will be easy to refresh when necessary.

There is no lack of technical terms in the world of information studies, but this textbook does a fine job of providing definitions where appropriate in each chapter. Concepts and methods are explained in context, and illustrative, easy-to-follow examples adorn each chapter.

The only area of the text that falls a little short on clarity is the interactive activities. These are usually multiple choice or matching questions, but some of the word choice in questions left this reader confused, and in some cases the instructions could have been more explicit.

Being authored by committee, we might expect this textbook to suffer in the consistency category. Yet it does not, thanks again to the fine editing job by Cheryl Lowry. Perhaps the book's provenance as a series of online tutorials put together by librarians and faculty at OSU is partly responsible for this.

As the authors suggest on the first page, the research process isn't always linear. So reading a text modeled on the research process oughtn't to be a straightforward chapter-by-chapter march either. Consequently, faculty and students can comfortably read this text selectively and skip chapters as needed. For the most holistic understanding of the research process, however, it would be sensible to work through at least chapters one through eight in their entirety.

I appreciate how the text's organization mirrors the research process itself. The first chapter takes on research questions, exactly where student researchers need to begin their projects. Subsequent chapters explore types of information sources, how to find and evaluate them, and finally how to deploy them in a well-argued scholarly product. The writing in each chapter is clear and crisp, with important concepts amplified by colorful visualizations.

As mentioned above, the chapters on copyright and fair use which occur near the end of the book feel like a logical interruption to the book's flow, and they might well fit more comfortably as appendices for occasional reference by advanced undergraduates, faculty, and librarians.

The "look and feel" of this textbook is clean and very intuitive to navigate through. The design strikes a pleasing balance between prose, graphics, and special formatting features like the explanatory, grey-background "TIPS" found in each chapter. Subheadings, bulleted and ordered lists, and judicious font choices make the text easy to read in all its online file formats.

One weakness of the interface is that several of the linked activities point to OSU Libraries' resources, thus requiring OSU authentication to be accessed. While it is understandable that the authors wanted to include their libraries' proprietary information sources in the activities - these are the sources their students and faculty will be using in actual practice, after all - this obviously makes this text less of an "open" textbook. Those outside of the OSU community who would like to adopt this textbook will therefore have to come up with their own replacement activities in such cases, or do without.

A few of the links in the text did lead me to a curious OSU server error message: "Error: Unknown export format", but I expect these links will be repaired as they are reported to the authors.

This textbook has clearly been edited with careful eyes by Cheryl Lowry, as grammatical errors are few to none. The grammatical hygiene of the text can probably also be attributed to its collective authorship - over a dozen librarians and faculty of the Ohio State University Libraries developed the content, which was born out of a series of online tutorials.

This textbook is culturally relevant in its use of examples and depictions of college students.

This text is a substantial contribution to the open textbook movement, and its quality easily meets or exceeds anything comparable in the commercial publishing arena. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Kelly McKenna, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University on 12/5/16

The book provides a thorough introduction and how to regarding sources in academic writing. With the exception of the first chapter on writing research questions, the rest of the book is focused on sources, which is relevant for any type of... read more

The book provides a thorough introduction and how to regarding sources in academic writing. With the exception of the first chapter on writing research questions, the rest of the book is focused on sources, which is relevant for any type of academic writing not just research papers. The information is relevant across disciplines and readable to a wide audience. It is clearly written for and geared towards undergraduate students, particularly from Ohio State University. The index is detailed making it easy to locate specific information and includes hyperlinks for clear navigation. A slightly altered index format would make the chapter topics more readily available and accessed. All subjects and chapters are aligned rather than clearly indicating each of the chapters found within the text.

Content throughout the book is accurate and clearly written. There does not appear to bias in reading the material. The book includes numerous resources linked throughout the text, however some are no longer active resulting in error messages.

Due to the significant number of links throughout the book, it is likely updates will be necessary on a consistent basis. These links are extremely beneficial, so ensuring they are accurate and up to date is essential to the content of this book. Much of the book reads as a "how to" regarding sources, so although practices for scholarly writing will likely not become obsolete the sources and technology used to locate the sources will evolve.

The informal tone of the text is engaging and applicable for the intended audience. The writers are aware of their audience, avoiding technical jargon. Also, throughout the book they provide numerous examples, resources, activities, and tips to provide insight and relevancy to students.

The structure of the book is clear and well organized with each chapter providing scaffolding for the next. Although the text is internally consistent regarding terminology there are formatting differences between and within some chapters. Blue boxes throughout the text contain tips, examples, answers, etc. Organization, readability, and consistency could be improved if these were constant throughout the text similar to the presentation of activities in the text.

Sections of the book could be easily assigned and read in isolation. Subsections of material are clearly marked and chapters are presented in organized fashion with clear delineation between segments. The inclusion of numerous activities, examples, resources, and tips improve modularity.

The book is created as a tool for students completing academic writing and follows this course. Topics contained in the book are presented in a clear and logical structure. As mentioned above, with exception of the first chapter, the material is relevant to all undergraduate academic writing, not just research.

The layout and display work well as a PDF or electronic book. Numerous visuals are included throughout and are free of distortion or other distracting or confusing issues. As mentioned above, the index could be improved by clearly articulating the subheadings as within a chapter.

The book contains minimal to no grammatical errors.

The book is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.

Some sections of the book are specific to Ohio State University potentially limiting its relevancy and audience in specific chapters or sections.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Research Questions
  • 2. Types of Sources
  • 3. Sources and Information Needs
  • 4. Precision Searching
  • 5. Search Tools
  • 6. Evaluating Sources
  • 7. Ethical Use of Sources
  • 8. How to Cite Sources
  • 9. Making an Argument
  • 10. Writing Tips
  • 11. Copyright Basics
  • 12. Fair Use
  • 13. Roles of Research Sources

Ancillary Material

About the book.

Choosing & Using Sources presents a process for academic research and writing, from formulating your research question to selecting good information and using it effectively in your research assignments. Additional chapters cover understanding types of sources, searching for information, and avoiding plagiarism. Each chapter includes self-quizzes and activities to reinforce core concepts and help you apply them. There are also appendices for quick reference on search tools, copyright basics, and fair use.

What experts are saying about Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research :

“…a really fantastic contribution that offers a much needed broadened perspective on the process of research, and is packed to the brim with all kinds of resources and advice on how to effectively use them. The chapter on plagiarism is really excellent, and the chapter on searching for sources is utterly brilliant.”

– Chris Manion, PhD Coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum at Ohio State University

“… an excellent resource for students, with engaging content, graphics, and examples—very compelling. The coverage of copyright is outstanding.”

– J. Craig Gibson Co-chair of ACRL's Task Force on Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

About the Contributors

Cheryl Lowry , training and education specialist, Ohio State University Libraries.

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Performing Academic Research: Primary and secondary sources

  • The research process
  • Creating a research plan
  • Primary and secondary sources
  • Academic vs. non-academic information
  • Evaluating information: The PAARC test

Identifying Primary and Secondary Sources

What is a primary source.

Primary sources are firsthand accounts of events, ideas, or statements. They are usually created at the time of an event or very soon after.

Primary sources can come in many different forms, including diaries, letters, photographs, art, maps, video and film, sound recordings, interviews, newspapers, magazines, novels, poems, short stories, autobiographies, or memoirs. The exact form of a primary source is not important. It is the content and context of the material that makes it a primary source.  For example, a novel written in 2012 about the Peloponnesian War isn’t a primary source for information about the Peloponnesian War (unless the author is somehow over two thousand years old). However, the same novel is a primary source for information about the author’s ideas, philosophy, and writing style.

When trying to identify a Primary Source, ask yourself:

  • Was it created at the time of an event, or very soon after?
  • Was it created by someone who saw or heard an event themselves?
  • Is it a personal record of an event?

If you answer to any of the above is “yes,” then it is likely that you are looking at a Primary Source.

What is a Secondary Source?

Secondary sources report, describe, comment on, or analyze the experiences or work of others.

A secondary source is at least once removed from the primary source. It reports on the original work, the direct observation, or the firsthand experience. It will often use primary sources as examples.

Secondary sources can include books, textbooks, newspapers, biographies, journal articles, movies and magazines. As with primary sources, the format is less important than the information being presented. If the source seeks to report, describe, comment on or analyze an original work, direct observation, or firsthand experience of another person, it is a secondary source.

Eamon, Michael. “Defining Primary and Secondary Sources.” Library and Archives Canada , Library and Archives Canada,

27 May 2010, https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/education/008-3010-e.html.

Payton, Melissa. The Prentice Hall Guide to Evaluating Online Resources with Research Navigator 2004 . Pearson Education Inc., 2004.

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  • URL: https://libguides.marianopolis.edu/research

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  • USC Libraries
  • Research Guides

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • Primary Sources
  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Applying Critical Thinking
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Research Process Video Series
  • Executive Summary
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Insiderness
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography

Primary sources are materials that were either created during the time period being studied or were created at a later date by a participant in the events being studied, such as, a childhood memoir. They are original documents [i.e., they are not about another document or account] and reflect the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer. Primary sources represent direct, uninterpreted records of the subject of your research study.

NOTE : Information about identifying and using primary resources materials, particularly those held in the USC Libraries, can be found in the Libraries Primary Sources Research Guide .

Value of Primary Sources

Primary sources enable you to get as close as possible to understanding the lived experiences of others and discovering what actually happened during an event. However, what constitutes a primary or secondary source depends on the context in which it is being used. For example, David McCullough’s biography of John Adams could be a secondary source for a paper about John Adams, but a primary source for a paper about how various historians have interpreted the life of John Adams. When in doubt, ask a librarian for assistance!

Reviewing primary source material can be of value in improving your overall research paper because they :

  • Are original materials,
  • Were created from the time period involved,
  • Have not been filtered through interpretation or evaluation by others, and
  • Represent original thinking or experiences, reporting of a discovery, or the sharing of new information.

Examples of primary documents you could review as part of your overall study include :

  • Artifacts [e.g. furniture or clothing, all from the time under study]
  • Audio recordings [e.g. radio programs]
  • Internet communications on email, listservs, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms
  • Interviews [e.g., oral histories, telephone, e-mail]
  • Newspaper articles written at the time
  • Original official documents [e.g., birth certificate, will, marriage license, trial transcript]
  • Personal correspondence [e.g., letters]
  • Photographs
  • Proceedings of meetings, conferences and symposia
  • Records of organizations, government agencies [e.g. annual report, treaty, constitution, government document]
  • Survey Research [e.g., market surveys, public opinion polls]
  • Transcripts of radio and television programs
  • Video recordings
  • Works of art, architecture, literature, and music [e.g., paintings, sculptures, musical scores, buildings, novels, poems]

Bahde, Anne. Using Primary Sources: Hands-On Instructional Exercises . Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2014; Brundage, Anthony. Going to the Sources: A Guide to Historical Research and Writing . Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2013; Daniels, Morgan and Elizabeth Yakel. “Uncovering Impact: The Influence of Archives on Student Learning.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 39 (September 2013): 414-422; Krause, Magia G. “Undergraduates in the Archives: Using an Assessment Rubric to Measure Learning.” The American Archivist 73 (Fall/Winter 2010): 507-534; Rockenbach, Barbara. “Archives, Undergraduates, and Inquiry-Based Learning: Case Studies from Yale University Library.” The American Archivist 74 (Spring/Summer 2011): 297-311; Weiner, Sharon A., Sammie Morris , and Lawrence J. Mykytiuk. "Archival Literacy Competencies for Undergraduate History Majors." The American Archivist 78 (Spring/Summer 2015): 154-180.

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Information For Students

I have to write a research paper using primary sources. where do i start.

  • What are Special Collections and Archives?
  • What is the difference between Primary and Secondary sources?
  • How do I cite primary source materials?

Primary sources are created by individuals who participated in or witnessed an event and recorded that event during or immediately after the event.

Explanation:

A student activist during the war writing about protest activities has created a memoir. This would be a primary source because the information is based on her own involvement in the events she describes. Similarly, an antiwar speech is a primary source. So is the arrest record of student protesters. A newspaper editorial or article, reporting on a student demonstration is also a primary source.

Deeds, wills, court documents, military records, tax records, census records, diaries, journals, letters, account books, advertisements, newspapers, photographs, and maps are primary sources.

Secondary sources are created by someone who was either not present when the event occurred or removed from it in time. We use secondary sources for overview information, and to help familiarize ourselves with a topic and compare that topic with other events in history.

History books, encyclopedias, historical dictionaries, and academic articles are secondary sources.

If you've never written a research paper using primary sources, it is important to understand that the process is different from using only secondary sources. Many students discover that finding and gaining access to primary source documents can be difficult. The Library website has a valuable guide to locating primary source documents. Follow the link below to be redirected to that guide:

https://libguides.furman.edu/resources/primary-sources

  • Students are encouraged to seek help from the Special Collections Librarian or Research Librarians to aid in their research projects. Librarians will be able to aid students in a variety of ways including helping to locate primary source materials.

After locating appropriate primary sources, it is necessary for students to analyze and interpret them. To many students, this task can seem arduous, if not overwhelming. There are many resources available in the library as well as online, which are helpful. The National Archives website has very useful analysis worksheets that can help students to determine the significance of primary source documents. Links to PDF files of these worksheets are listed below:

Written Document | Artifact | Cartoon | Map | Motion Picture | Photograph | Poster | Sound Recording

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Reference management. Clean and simple.

Primary sources and why you should use them

is research paper primary source

How do I know if a source is a primary source?

How do i find primary sources, why do i need primary sources, how do i access primary sources, do i need to reference primary sources, frequently asked questions about primary sources, related articles.

Primary sources are original documents or artifacts. They were created at the time period you are studying and can be used as evidence. Primary sources are contemporary resources, created by someone who witnessed a historical event, lived in the time under study, or created art or objects which are studied.

➡️  What are secondary sources?

➡️  What is the difference between primary and secondary sources?

Generally speaking, if your primary source is in text format, it will not contain any footnotes, references, or citations. A primary source is anything original that comes from the period or event which you are studying.

Examples of primary sources:

  • First-hand evidence or oral histories
  • Audio recordings or video footage
  • Photographs
  • Legal and/or financial documents
  • Results of experiments
  • Architectural plans or drawings
  • Newspaper reports or magazine articles
  • Historical artifacts such as clothing samples, fragments of clay, cutlery, crockery, remnants of dwellings

You can often find primary sources by not looking for them specifically in your first step. Using secondary resources as your starting point will direct you to the primary source(s) through footnotes, references, and citations.

A history book will often refer to letters, diaries, or accounts of historical writing, so these types of sources give you some clues as to where the author got their information. Reading bibliographies will point you in the direction of the original texts, so you can follow the trail of breadcrumbs to the primary sources and see if they contain credible evidence.

If you do want to start at the primary source then here are some common examples of starting points for you:

You can learn about the specifics of certain primary sources and cases where the distinction between primary and secondary source might not be so simple here:

➡️  Is a letter a primary source?

➡️  Is an interview a primary source?

➡️  Is a painting a primary source?

➡️  Is a map a primary source?

➡️  Is an autobiography a primary source?

➡️  Is census data a primary source?

➡️  Is the US Constitution a primary source?

➡️  Is a newspaper article a primary source?

You're probably wondering why you can't use books and journal articles written by someone else as your main source of information. You can, but your research won't be as sound as it would be if you use academic writing alone instead of adding primary sources. That's because books and articles are written by people - people who have creator bias, conscious or subconscious - and their accounts can be subjective.

Going back to the original provides you with the opportunity to view the source as it was, as unaltered direct evidence based on first-hand evidence. This enables you to interpret the event or object without questions of creator bias clouding your judgment. Generally speaking, of course - prejudice can still be found in original sources too.

This depends on the type of source that you want to use. Often, you will have to make an appointment with the museum, library, or institution that owns the primary sources you wish to examine. Generally, access to primary source materials is given with supervision, to ensure that the original materials are not damaged in any way. If you are examining primary sources relating to a court case or anything which might be ‘sensitive' or involving people who are still alive, you may have to sign a confidentiality contract to gain access to archives.

Yes. You need to reference a primary source just as you would a secondary source. Primary sources are original materials just like any other, and as such you need to reference the material just as you would academic books or articles.

Most primary sources come with a unique code, and this code is their identifier. This differs from depository to depository, so make sure you use the correct code depending on the place you access the source. Then you apply this identifier in the way in which your citation style requires, such as APA, Harvard, Chicago, etc.

Here are some examples:

[Terracotta statuette of a woman]. (2nd century B.C.). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

Matisse, H. (1906) Olive Trees at Collioure [Oil on canvas]. Robert Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

Highsmith, C. M. (2008) Mount Foraker, Denali National Park, Alaska . Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

The answer to this is not straightforward, but in general, the answer is: yes. When you conducted the interview yourself and included it as supporting evidence in your research paper, then the interview is definitely a primary source. Take a look at Is an interview a primary source? for more insight on this topic.

Yes, if the painting originated at the time it depicts, then it is a primary source. For instance, Da Vinci's Mona Lisa is a primary source because it is the most famous art piece during the Renaissance period. Works of art, in general, are considered primary sources. However, in some cases, paintings are considered secondary sources. Take a look at Is a painting a primary source? for more insight on this topic.

No, an encyclopedia is a tertiary source. Encyclopedias provide extent information about a particular topic, time period, or person in the form of entries arranged in alphabetical order. Encyclopedias, indexes, and works alike are known for compiling primary and secondary sources, as a result, they are considered tertiary sources. Take a look at Is an Encyclopedia a primary source? for more insight on this topic.

A map can be a primary or secondary source. If a map was produced as immediate evidence of an area, then it is a primary source. If the map is just a symbolic depiction of a space, then it is a secondary source. Take a look at Is a map a primary source? for more insight on this topic.

Yes, an autobiography is a primary source. Authors of autobiographies are direct witnesses of the events and time described in the narration. Take a look at Is an autobiography a primary source? for more insight on this topic.

Thesis conclusion tips

Primary Source Research and Discovery

  • What are archives?
  • What are primary sources?
  • Where do I find primary sources for the Sciences at CSUDH?
  • Where do I find primary sources at other institutions?
  • What is a Finding Aid?
  • How do I use and evaluate primary sources?
  • How do I start?

What are Primary Sources?

Primary sources.

A primary source provides direct or firsthand evidence about an event, object, person, or work of art. Primary sources include historical and legal documents, eyewitness accounts, results of experiments, statistical data, pieces of creative writing, audio and video recordings, speeches, and art objects. Interviews, surveys, fieldwork, and Internet communications via email, blogs, listservs, and newsgroups are also primary sources. In the natural and social sciences, primary sources are often empirical studies—research where an experiment was performed or a direct observation was made. The results of empirical studies are typically found in scholarly articles or papers delivered at conferences.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources. Secondary source materials can be articles in newspapers or popular magazines, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that discuss or evaluate someone else's original research. 

Definition courtesy of  Ithaca College Library Research Guide , Primary vs Secondary section.

Clues for Identifying Primary Sources

Clues for identifying primary source characteristics.

Characteristics of Primary Sources

  • Primary sources can either be first-hand observation/analysis or accounts contemporary with the events described.
  • Primary sources document events, people, viewpoints of the time.
  • When research is more era, rather than event-driven, the scope of possible primary sources broadens considerably.
  • Primary sources represent one person's perspective; frequently will be used with  secondary/tertiary  sources to broaden the lens through which a researcher is looking at an event, era, or phenomenon.
  • It is important when using anything as a primary source that the researcher be cognizant of and sensitive to the bias of the observer/analyzer that created the primary source, and also to the broader cultural biases of the era in which the primary source was created.
  • The researcher's perspective, or the arguments or points for which a researcher plans to use a primary source as evidence, is significant in determining what sources will be primary.
  • Reproductions of primary sources remain primary for many research purposes.
  • Some attributes are based more on the perspective represented in the source and context in which the source is being used by researcher.

Bullet points courtesy of The University of California at Irvine Libraries .

Web Link

Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Examples

Primary, secondary, tertiary sources.

The infographic below gives the definition, characteristics, and examples of primary, secondary and tertiary sources. Notice, journal articles are listed for the sciences as a primary source and a secondary source for non-scientific disciplines. At the top of the graphic is the publishing timeline . As you can see primary sources are generally published first, then secondary sources. In the research timeline , secondary sources are generally consulted first to provide needed context for primary source research.

Open Access

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  • Last Updated: Jan 29, 2024 4:09 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.csudh.edu/primary-sources

Detail of a painting depicting the landscape of New Mexico with mountains in the distance

Explore millions of high-quality primary sources and images from around the world, including artworks, maps, photographs, and more.

Explore migration issues through a variety of media types

  • Part of The Streets are Talking: Public Forms of Creative Expression from Around the World
  • Part of The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Winter 2020)
  • Part of Cato Institute (Aug. 3, 2021)
  • Part of University of California Press
  • Part of Open: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture
  • Part of Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Winter 2012)
  • Part of R Street Institute (Nov. 1, 2020)
  • Part of Leuven University Press
  • Part of UN Secretary-General Papers: Ban Ki-moon (2007-2016)
  • Part of Perspectives on Terrorism, Vol. 12, No. 4 (August 2018)
  • Part of Leveraging Lives: Serbia and Illegal Tunisian Migration to Europe, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Mar. 1, 2023)
  • Part of UCL Press

Harness the power of visual materials—explore more than 3 million images now on JSTOR.

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Primary Sources: A Research Guide

  • Primary vs. Secondary
  • Historical Newspapers
  • Book Collections
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  • Open Access
  • Local Archives and Archival Societies
  • University Archives and Special Collections at UMass Boston

Primary Sources

Texts of laws and other original documents.

Newspaper reports, by reporters who witnessed an event or who quote people who did.

Speeches, diaries, letters and interviews - what the people involved said or wrote.

Original research.

Datasets, survey data, such as census or economic statistics.

Photographs, video, or audio that capture an event.

Secondary Sources

Encyclopedias

Secondary Sources are one step removed from primary sources, though they often quote or otherwise use primary sources. They can cover the same topic, but add a layer of interpretation and analysis. Secondary sources can include:

Most books about a topic.

Analysis or interpretation of data.

Scholarly or other articles about a topic, especially by people not directly involved.

Documentaries (though they often include photos or video portions that can be considered primary sources).

When is a Primary Source a Secondary Source?

Whether something is a primary or secondary source often depends upon the topic and its use.

A biology textbook would be considered a secondary source if in the field of biology, since it describes and interprets the science but makes no original contribution to it.

On the other hand, if the topic is science education and the history of textbooks, textbooks could be used a primary sources to look at how they have changed over time.

Examples of Primary and Secondary Sources

Adapted from Bowling Green State University, Library User Education, Primary vs. Secondary Sources .

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  • Primary Sources
  • Definitions
  • Documents - Printed & Published
  • Objects and Artifacts
  • Sound Recordings
  • Visual Materials
  • Digitized Sources
  • Locating Sources
  • Sources By Subject
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Documenting Sources / Copyright
  • Research Tips
  • Using Archives This link opens in a new window

Primary Sources Definition

What are primary sources .

Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to the truth of what actually happened during an historical event or time period. Primary source is a term used in a number of disciplines to describe source material that is closest to the person, information, period, or idea being studied.  A primary source (also called original source ) is a document, recording, artifact, or other source of information that was created at the time under study, usually by a source with direct personal knowledge of the events being described. It serves as an original source of information about the topic.

Similar definitions are used in library science , and other areas of scholarship. In journalism, a primary source can be a person with direct knowledge of a situation, or a document created by such a person. Primary sources are distinguished from secondary sources , which cite, comment on, or build upon primary sources, though the distinction is not a sharp one.

Newspaper Research

  • Historical Newspapers (ProQuest) This link opens in a new window Includes the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, Christian Science Monitor, and more. Newspapers are in PDF format and provide a visual representation of the newspaper.
  • ProQuest Central This link opens in a new window Includes both newspapers and scholarly journals
  • Historical Newspapers The Guardian and The Observer Search The Guardian (1821-2003) and its sister paper, The Observer (1791-2003)
  • New York Newspaper Archive This link opens in a new window Access New York Newspaper Archives and discover stories of the past with NewspaperArchive.com. The archive covers New York history from 1753-2023, with lots of content from smaller, local newspapers. Articles have been scanned as PDFs and include images and advertisements, and are full text searchable.
  • America's Historical Newspapers This link opens in a new window America's Historical Newspapers includes articles from local and regional American and Hispanic American newspapers from all 50 states. Coverage dates from 1690 to the early 20th century. Articles have been scanned as PDFs and include images and advertisements, and are full text searchable.
  • American Periodicals Series Online This link opens in a new window includes digitized images of the pages of American magazines and journals published from colonial days to the dawn of the 20th century, 1740-1940.
  • Times Digital Archive (London) This link opens in a new window Provides full-text access to back issues of The Times newspaper. Dates of coverage: 1785 to 2006.
  • Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980 This link opens in a new window Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980 provides access to searchable digitized copies of newspapers printed in the U.S. during the 19th and 20th centuries for a Hispanic readership. It features hundreds of monolingual and bilingual newspapers in Spanish and English, including many obscure titles from the 19th century.
  • Global Newsstream This link opens in a new window Full text of 300+ U.S. and international news sources. Includes coverage of 150+ major U.S. and international newspapers such as The New York Times and the Times of London, plus hundreds of other news sources and news wires.
  • Gale Newspaper Sources This link opens in a new window The Gale NewsVault is a portal to several historical collections of British newspapers and periodicals. It enables full-text searching across several titles simultaneously, including the Times of London, Financial Times, and Times Literary Supplement, along with aggregate newspaper and periodical collections covering the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
  • Access World News This link opens in a new window Access World News provides the html full text and, for some titles, the pdf "as printed" visual representation, of articles from a variety of national and international news sources, including newspapers, digital-native news websites, television and radio transcripts, blogs, college and university newspapers, journals, magazines, and some audio and video. Most international titles are English language. Dates of coverage vary from title to title, but primarily span the late 20th century to present.

The Billy Rose Theatre Collection

TITLE: [Scene from Othello with Paul Robeson as Othello and Uta Hagen as Desdemona, Theatre Guild Production, Broadway, 1943-44]   http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robeson_Hagen_Othello.jpg SOURCE:Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540

The Billy Rose Theatre Collection of The New York Public Library is one of the largest and most comprehensive archives devoted to the theatrical arts. This image is a work of an employee of the United States Farm Security Administration or Office of War Information domestic photographic units, created during the course of the person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

  • Billy Rose Collection NYPL The Billy Rose Theatre Division of The New York Public Library is one of the largest and most comprehensive archives devoted to the theatrical arts.
  • New York Public Library Archives & Manuscripts On this site, you can search The New York Public Library's vast holdings, initiate a research visit, submit a query to an archivist, and access digitized material. Most Broadway shows can be viewed in the special collections. You will need a NYPL library card to view them.
  • ArchiveGrid This link opens in a new window Thousands of libraries, museums, and archives have contributed nearly a million collection descriptions to ArchiveGrid.
  • WorldCat - FirstSearch (OCLC) This link opens in a new window Search for books and more in libraries in the U.S. and around the world. Indicates when NYU Libraries holds a copy of a book and shows you nearby libraries with holdings.
  • Internet Archive Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library offering free universal access to books, movies & music, as well as 456 billion archived web pages.
  • Archives Unbound This link opens in a new window NYU is currently subscribing 14 collections:African America, Communists, and the National Negro Congress; Federal Response to Radicalism; Federal Surveillance of African Americans; Feminism in Cuba - 19th through 20th century archival document; Global Missions and Theology; India from Crown Rule to Republic; Testaments to the Holocaust (Documents and Rare Printed Materials from the Wiener Library, London); The Hindu Conspiracy Cases (Activities of the Indian Independence Movement in the U.S., 1908-1933); The Indian Army and Colonial Warfare on the Frontiers of India; The International Women’s Movement (The Pan Pacific Southeast Asia Women’s Association of the USA, 1950-1985); The Middle East Online - Arab-Israeli Relations; The Middle East Online - Iraq; U.S. and Iraqi Relations: U.S. Technical Aid; and, Witchcraft in Europe.

Historical Databases

An advert for P.T. Barnum's "Feejee Mermaid" in 1842 or thereabout. Author: P. T. Barnum or an employee, Source: Newspaper advert commons.wikimedia.org/ wiki/File:Barnum_mermai... This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

  • America: History and Life with Full Text This link opens in a new window ndexes literature covering the history and culture of the United States and Canada, from prehistory to the present. The database indexes 1,700 journals and also includes citations and links to book and media reviews. Strong English-language journal coverage is balanced by an international perspective on topics and events, including abstracts in English of articles published in more than 40 languages. Publication dates of coverage: 1964 to present.
  • Historical Abstracts with Full Text (EBSCO) This link opens in a new window Covers the history of the world (excluding the United States and Canada) from 1450 to the present, including world history, military history, women's history, history of education, and more. Indexes more than 1,700 academic historical journals in over 40 languages. Publication dates of coverage: 1955 to present.
  • Theatre in Context Collection This link opens in a new window O’Dell’s Annals of the New York Stage, the Oxford University Press Companion series, and Greenwood’s American Theatre Companies series are just a few of the many in-copyright sources included in the Theatre in Context Collection. Placed alongside thousands of playbills, posters, photographs, and related theatrical ephemera, users will be able to paint a more comprehensive picture of the life and evolution of dramatic works.
  • Shakespeare Collection This link opens in a new window The Shakespeare Collection provides access to general reference data, full-text scholarly periodicals, reprinted criticism, facsimile primary source material and the full-text annotated works from The Arden Shakespeare. Users can view page images of the First Folio, key Quartos, and major editions and adaptations of Shakespeare's works, plus works by Shakespeare's contemporaries and promptbooks from the 17th to the 20th century.
  • Black Thought and Culture This link opens in a new window Contains 1297 sources with 1100 authors, covering the non-fiction published works of leading African-Americans. Particular care has been taken to index this material so that it can be searched more thoroughly than ever before. Where possible the complete published non-fiction works are included, as well as interviews, journal articles, speeches, essays, pamphlets, letters and other fugitive material.
  • Periodicals Archive Online This link opens in a new window Provides full-text and full-image access to hundreds of journals published in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and areas of general popular interest. Each periodical is covered back to its first issue, regardless of when it began publication. International in scope, PAO covers periodicals in a number of Western languages.
  • Accessible Archives This link opens in a new window Includes the following collections: African American Newspapers, The Civil War Part I. A Newspaper Perspective, The Pennsylvania Genealogical Catalog, Pennsylvania Newspaper Record, South Carolina Newspapers, and The Liberator. ** Within these collections are papers such as The Charleston Mercury, The Christian Recorder, The Colored American, Douglass Monthly, Frederick, Douglass Paper, Freedom's Journal, Godey's Lady's Book, The Liberator, The National Era, The New York Herald, The North Star, The Pennsylvania Gazette, The Pennsylvania Packet, The Maryland Gazette, Provincial Freeman, Richmond Enquirer, The South Carolina Gazette, The Gazette of the State of South Carolina, The South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, The South Carolina and American General Gazette, Weekly Advocate.
  • Early English Books Online (EEBO) This link opens in a new window Early English Books Online (EEBO) contains digital facsimile page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700. Searchable full text is also available for a subset of the collection.
  • Eighteenth Century Journals This link opens in a new window Eighteenth Century Journals brings together rare journals printed between 1685 and 1835, primarily in the British Isles (with some publications from India, the Caribbean, and Europe). Users can view and download page images and search transcribed full text for all journals in the collection.
  • C19: The 19th Century Index This link opens in a new window C19: The 19th Century Index provides bibliographic coverage of nineteenth-century books, periodicals, official documents, newspapers and archives from the English-speaking world. This database includes the Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals (1824-1900), Poole's Index to Periodical Literature, Palmer's Index to The Times, the Nineteenth Century Short Title Catalogue, and more.
  • Sixties: Primary Documents and Personal Narratives 1960 - 1974 This link opens in a new window This resource consists of diaries, letters, autobiographies and other memoirs, written and oral histories, manifestos, government documents, memorabilia, and scholarly commentary. With 150,000 pages of material at completion, this searchable collection is a resource for students and scholars researching this period in American history, culture, and politics.
  • African American Archives (via Fold3) This link opens in a new window This full text resource offers access to original documents that reveal a side of the African American story that few have seen before.
  • African American Experience This link opens in a new window Full-text digital resource exploring the history and culture of African Americans, as well as the greater Black Diaspora. Features access to full-text content from more than 400 titles, 3,000 slave narratives, over 2000 images, 5,000 primary sources, and 250 vetted Web sites.

Letters & Diaries /Oral Histories

  • Oral History Online This link opens in a new window Provides in-depth indexing to more than 2,700 collections of Oral History in English from around the world. The collection provides keyword searching of almost 281,000 pages of full-text by close to 10,000 individuals from all walks of life.
  • American Civil War: Letters and Diaries This link opens in a new window This database contains 2,009 authors and approximately 100,000 pages of diaries, letters and memoirs. Includes 4,000 pages of previously unpublished manuscripts such as the letters of Amos Wood and his wife and the diary of Maryland Planter William Claytor. The collection also includes biographies, an extensive bibliography of the sources in the database, and material licensed from The Civil War Day-by-Day by E.B. Long.
  • British and Irish Women's Letters and Diaries This link opens in a new window Includes 10,000 pages of diaries and letters revealing the experiences of approximately 500 women. The collection now includes primary materials spanning more than 300 years. The collection also includes biographies and an extensive annotated bibliography of the sources in the database.
  • North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories This link opens in a new window North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories includes 2,162 authors and approximately 100,000 pages of information, so providing a unique and personal view of what it meant to immigrate to America and Canada between 1800 and 1950. Contains contemporaneous letters, diaries, oral histories, interviews, and other personal narratives.
  • North American Women's Letters and Diaries This link opens in a new window North American Women's Letters and Diaries includes the immediate experiences of 1,325 women and 150,000 pages of diaries and letters.

Gale Primary Sources

  • Gale Primary Sources This link opens in a new window Gale Artemis is a groundbreaking research environment that integrates formerly disparate digital collections to enable innovative research. Gale Artemis provides an unprecedented, seamless research experience that helps students find a starting point, search across a wide array of materials and points in time, and discover new ways to analyze information.

Victorian Popular Culture

  • Victorian Popular Culture This link opens in a new window An essential resource for the study of popular entertainment in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This innovative portal invites users into the darkened halls, small backrooms and travelling venues that hosted everything from spectacular shows and bawdy burlesque, to the world of magic and spiritualist séances. ** The resource is divided into four self-contained sections: Moving Pictures, Optical Entertainments and the Advent of Cinema; Music Hall, Theatre and Popular Entertainment; Circuses, Sideshows and Freaks; Spiritualism, Sensation and Magic

Historical Image Collections

commons.wikimedia.org/ wiki/File:Cushman_in_Ha... , The American actress Charlotte Cushman advertised in William Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Washington Theater in 1861.  Author:Washington Theater, SOURCE:Public Library of Congress. this image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

  • American Broadsides and Ephemera This link opens in a new window American Broadsides and Ephemera offers fully searchable images of approximately 15,000 broadsides printed between 1820 and 1900 and 15,000 pieces of ephemera printed between 1760 and 1900. The remarkably diverse subjects of these broadsides range from contemporary accounts of the Civil War, unusual occurrences and natural disasters to official government proclamations, tax bills and town meeting reports. Featuring many rare items, the pieces of ephemera include clipper ship sailing cards, early trade cards, bill heads, theater and music programs, stock certificates, menus and invitations documenting civic, political and private celebrations.
  • Early American Imprints, Series I. Evans, 1639-1800 This link opens in a new window Search or browse the books, pamphlets, broadsides and other imprints listed in the renowned bibliography by Charles Evans.
  • Early American Imprints, Series II. Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819 This link opens in a new window Search or browse the books, pamphlets, broadsides and other imprints listed in the distinguished bibliography by Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker. 1801-1819
  • American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection (EBSCO) This link opens in a new window Provide digital access to the most comprehensive collection of American periodicals published between 1691 and 1877. Included digitized images of American magazines and journals never before available outside the walls of the American Antiquarian Society. The collection is available in five series: Series 1 (1691-1820) - Series 2 (1821-1837) - Series 3 (1838-1852) - Series 4 (1853-1865) - Series 5 (1866-1877)

Link to Bobst Special Collections

  • NYU Special Collections Bobst Library's Special Collections department houses significant archival resources including materials from the Downtown Collection, which documents New York City's downtown arts scene from the 1970s through the early 1990s. Maria Irene Fornés and Richard Foreman are among the many artists whose materials are housed in the Downtown Collection.
  • Fales It is especially strong in English literature from the middle of the 18th century to the present, documenting developments in the novel. The Downtown Collection documents the downtown New York art, performance, and literary scenes from 1975 to the present and is extremely rich in archival holdings, including extensive film and video objects.
  • Tamiment One of the finest research collections in the country documenting the history of radical politics: socialism, communism, anarchism, utopian experiments, the cultural left, the New Left, and the struggle for civil rights and civil liberties.

Guide to International Collections

  • SIBMAS International Directory of Performing Arts Collections and Institutions

Books Containing Primary Source Documents

""

  • The mediaeval stage by Chambers, E. K. (Edmund Kerchever), 1866-1954 Call Number: Online versions avail.
  • The Elizabethan stage by Chambers, E. K. (Edmund Kerchever), 1866-1954 Call Number: PN2589 .C4 1965 4 vol. plus online version avail
  • The diary of Samuel Pepys by Pepys, Samuel, 1633-1703 Call Number: Avail. online
  • A history of theatrical art in ancient and modern times. by Mantzius, Karl, 1860-1921 Call Number: PN2106 .M313 1970 4 vol. also internet access
  • Ben Jonson by Ben Jonson Call Number: online access
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Research Basics

  • What Is Research?
  • Types of Research
  • Secondary Research | Literature Review
  • Developing Your Topic
  • Primary vs. Secondary Sources
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Additional Help

What Is a Primary or Secondary Source?

At its simplest, a primary source is an account of something that happened by the people who were there, such as participants or witnesses. A secondary source is an account of something that happened by people who were NOT there, often framed as a review, summary, or analysis. Technically, a secondary source is a review or analysis of primary sources—there’s also what’s called a tertiary source, that analyzes secondary sources, and so on.

What Does That Mean to Me As a Student or Researcher at Illinois Tech?

The most common type of primary source used at Illinois Tech is the research paper written by the researcher(s) who actually carried out the work. These papers are typically published as articles in peer-reviewed journals but could also be in the form of a thesis or dissertation, research report, case study, clinical trial, etc. In addition to written reports, various ancillary materials can be primary sources. These include data, surveys, questionnaires, interviews, computer code, images, and other supporting materials that were generated or collected as part of the work.

Secondary sources may be published in peer-reviewed journals as well but most often occur in popular media, like websites, blogs, newspapers, etc. Secondary sources in peer-reviewed journals are easy to identify because they use the word “review” in the title or abstract and don’t present any new research. Also considered as secondary sources are any ancillary materials that were re-used or repurposed from other research.

Interestingly, primary source research papers almost always include a review of prior research as part of the introduction or as a “literature review” section. The primary source material only includes those parts that talk about the new research: the methodology, results, discussion of results, conclusions, or other similar sections.

Why Is It Important to Use Primary Sources?

Simply put, people make mistakes. There’s an old party game called Telephone where a phrase is whispered from one person to the next around the room and at the end of the game, everybody is amused at how the phrase or its meaning has changed. Using secondary, tertiary, or other sources is like playing Telephone with your research. Reviews and other secondary accounts are summaries, so even at their best they omit parts of the original research and lack the detail and nuance of the original paper. At worst, a review author could entirely misunderstand or misrepresent the original research.

Does That Mean I Should Only Use Primary Sources?

No, not at all. For older, well-established research that’s had ample time to be reviewed and consolidated into the general knowledge of the field, there’s no need to go back to primary source material unless you’re challenging the conventional interpretation.

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Peer Review and Primary Literature: An Introduction: Is it Primary Research? How Do I Know?

  • Scholarly Journal vs. Magazine
  • Peer Review: What is it?
  • Finding Peer-Reviewed Articles
  • Primary Journal Literature
  • Is it Primary Research? How Do I Know?

Components of a Primary Research Study

As indicated on a previous page, Peer-Reviewed Journals also include non -primary content. Simply limiting your search results in a database to "peer-reviewed" will not retrieve a list of only primary research studies.

Learn to recognize the parts of a primary research study. Terminology will vary slightly from discipline to discipline and from journal to journal.  However, there are common components to most research studies.

When you run a search, find a promising article in your results list and then look at the record for that item (usually by clicking on the title). The full database record for an item usually includes an abstract or summary--sometimes prepared by the journal or database, but often written by the author(s) themselves. This will usually give a clear indication of whether the article is a primary study.  For example, here is a full database record from a search for family violence and support in SocINDEX with Full Text :

Although the abstract often tells the story, you will need to read the article to know for sure. Besides scanning the Abstract or Summary, look for the following components: (I am only capturing small article segments for illustration.)

Look for the words METHOD or METHODOLOGY . The authors should explain how they conducted their research.

NOTE: Different Journals and Disciplines will use different terms to mean similar things. If instead of " Method " or " Methodology " you see a heading that says " Research Design " or " Data Collection ," you have a similar indicator that the scholar-authors have done original research.

  

Look for the section called RESULTS . This details what the author(s) found out after conducting their research.

Charts , Tables , Graphs , Maps and other displays help to summarize and present the findings of the research.

A Discussion indicates the significance of findings, acknowledges limitations of the research study, and suggests further research.

References , a Bibliography or List of Works Cited indicates a literature review and shows other studies and works that were consulted. USE THIS PART OF THE STUDY! If you find one or two good recent studies, you can identify some important earlier studies simply by going through the bibliographies of those articles.

A FINAL NOTE:  If you are ever unclear about whether a particular article is appropriate to use in your paper, it is best to show that article to your professor and discuss it with them.  The professor is the final judge since they will be assigning your grade.

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  • Americans’ Changing Relationship With Local News

3. Sources of local news

Table of contents.

  • 1. Attention to local news
  • 2. Local news topics
  • Americans’ changing local news providers
  • How people feel about their local news media’s performance
  • Most Americans think local journalists are in touch with their communities
  • Interactions with local journalists
  • 5. Americans’ views on the financial health of local news
  • Acknowledgments
  • The American Trends Panel survey methodology

A line chart showing Americans’ preferred path to local news is moving online

The way Americans get local news is changing, both in terms of which devices they’re using and who is delivering the news.

Television is still the most common way people prefer to get their local news, but it is no longer dominant as digital pathways to news continue to rise.

About a third of U.S. adults (32%) say they prefer to get their local news via television, a decline from 41% in 2018. Meanwhile, the share who prefer to get local news from social media has increased, from 15% in 2018 to 23% today. And roughly a quarter of adults (26%) say they prefer to use news websites. Combined, about half of U.S. adults prefer to get news through one of these digital platforms – even if the content they’re getting may be coming from traditional media outlets with an online presence.

Fewer Americans prefer print newspapers and radio for local news (9% each). The share who say they prefer print newspapers has dropped by 4 percentage points in the last six years.

A bar chart showing as traditional outlets decline, more Americans are turning to online forums (such as Facebook) and other online-only sources for local news

In addition to the technologies being used to access local news, the organizations and specific sources where people are getting local news also are evolving.

The share of Americans who say they often or sometimes get local news and information from daily newspapers has dropped from 43% in 2018 to 33% today – putting newspapers on par with government agencies as a source of local news. About twice as many people say they at least sometimes get news from local TV stations (64%), but this also represents a drop from 70% six years ago. 

The two types of sources that have seen the most substantial growth are primarily digital by nature.

The share of U.S. adults who at least sometimes get news from online forums like Facebook groups increased from 38% in 2018 to 52% in 2024. More people also are getting news from online-only sources that aren’t included in any of the other categories (up from 15% in 2018 to 33% this year).

If respondents said they got news from one of these sources, we asked them to name (in their own words) a specific source they were thinking of as “online-only.” Respondents cited a variety of different types of sources, reflecting the complexity of the ever-changing online information environment.

Some people mentioned local websites and blogs, local news aggregator apps (such as NewsBreak), and specific Facebook groups and Instagram accounts. Others had more general responses such as social media sites more broadly (simply “Facebook”), search engines and online portals (such as Google or MSN), and outlets that cover more national news (e.g., CNN or Breitbart).

A bar chart showing Americans no longer access local newspapers primarily through print

Growth in digital access extends to traditional news sources

The impact of digital technology is visible through how people access two more traditional sources of local news: daily newspapers and TV stations.

Many of these outlets now offer news not only in their original format (print and broadcast TV), but through websites and social media feeds as well. For example, among Americans who say they get news from local TV stations, a majority (62%) still say they primarily access it on a television, but 37% say they mainly access that information online – whether from a TV station’s website, app, email newsletter or social media posts.

Among those who get news from local daily newspapers, just 31% access it primarily via their print version. About two-thirds of those who get news from local daily papers (66%) primarily access them online, including 41% who say they use websites or apps and 25% who say they use social media.

How Americans access each of these types of outlets is becoming more digital. In 2018, people were more likely to access both local TV and newspapers via their original analog form: 76% of local TV consumers said they primarily accessed that news on TV, and 54% of daily newspaper users said they mostly used the print format.

A bar chart showing getting local news from others still primarily happens via word of mouth

Even the way that people get information from friends and family shows signs of change.

A majority of Americans say they often (18%) or sometimes (55%) get local news from other people in their community, such as friends, family or neighbors. In 2018, a slightly smaller share said they got local news this way often (17%) or sometimes (49%).

News from friends, family and neighbors is still most often shared by word of mouth (i.e., in person or on the phone), but it is increasingly likely to be shared on social media. ­Among those who get local news from people in their community, 25% now say that primarily happens on social media, up from 17% in 2018.

Americans’ awareness of the outlets covering their local area

A bar chart showing most Americans say there is a newspaper, radio station or TV station that covers their local area, though some are not sure

How Americans access their local news first depends on whether they have local outlets available to them – and not everyone does. Others aren’t aware if there are specific types of sources that cover their local area.

We asked Americans whether or not there are newspapers, radio stations, online forums, TV news stations, or newsletters or blogs that cover their local area. For all five types of sources, more than half of Americans say there is at least one of these covering their area, although more say this about newspapers (71%) than other types of sources.

In each case, some respondents say their area doesn’t have a certain type of news outlet. For instance, 20% of respondents say their area doesn’t have a TV station, 14% say there is no radio station and 11% say their area doesn’t have a local newspaper.

In addition, substantial shares say they are not sure whether their area has each type of source, including 30% who aren’t sure if there is an online news forum in their area and 36% who aren’t sure if there is a local newsletter, blog or website.

A bar chart showing rural Americans are less likely to say there is a TV station covering their area

Some of this availability is connected to where respondents live – especially for local television stations. Americans who live in rural areas are much less likely to say there is a TV station covering their local area – 49% say there is, vs. 64% of those living in suburban areas and 70% of those in urban areas.

About a third of rural Americans (34%) say they do not have a TV station that covers their area, and 16% say they are not sure. By contrast, 17% of those in the suburbs and 10% of those in urban areas say there is no local TV station.

Americans in the suburbs, on the other hand, stand out for being more likely to say there are online forums or discussion groups (such as on Facebook or Nextdoor) in their local area. About seven-in-ten suburban Americans (69%) say there is at least one of these types of groups, compared with 55% of urban and 59% of rural Americans who say the same.

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Immigrant Entrepreneurship: New Estimates and a Research Agenda

Immigrants contribute disproportionately to entrepreneurship in many countries, accounting for a quarter of new employer businesses in the US. We review recent research on the measurement of immigrant entrepreneurship, the traits of immigrant founders, their economic impact, and policy levers. We provide updated statistics on the share of US entrepreneurs who are immigrants. We utilize the Annual Business Survey to quantify the greater rates of patenting and innovation in immigrant-founded firms. This higher propensity towards innovation is only partly explained by differences in education levels and fields of study. We conclude with avenues for future research.

William Kerr is the corresponding author. This paper is a draft chapter for an upcoming volume Migration and Innovation: A Research Agenda. We thank the volume editors, Francesco Lissoni and Andrea Morrison, and seminar participants for comments. We thank Stuart Anderson and George Hu for helpful data assistance. We gratefully acknowledge funding support by Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Harvard Business School. Any views expressed are those of the authors and not those of the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau has reviewed this data product to ensure appropriate access, use, and disclosure avoidance protection of the confidential source data used to produce this product. This research was performed at a Federal Statistical Research Data Center under FSRDC Project Numbers 1182, 1731, and 2766. (Request 5948, 8512, CBDRB-FY23-P1731-R10666, CBDRB-FY24-P1731-R11027, CBDRB-FY23-P2766-R10877, and CBDRB-FY23-P2766-R10856). This research uses data from the Census Bureau's Longitudinal Employer Household Dynamics Program, which was partially supported by the following National Science Foundation Grants SES-9978093, SES-0339191 and ITR-0427889; National Institute on Aging Grant AG018854; and grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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IMAGES

  1. How to use a source in a research paper in 2021

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  6. What is a Primary Source?

COMMENTS

  1. Definition and Examples of Primary Sources in Research

    In history, for example, primary sources include documents from the period or person you are studying, objects, maps, even clothing; in literature or philosophy, your main primary source is usually the text you are studying, and your data are the words on the page. In such fields, you can rarely write a research paper without using primary ...

  2. Understanding Research Sources

    A primary source is a first-hand account from a person or organization who: Created an original work; Participated in new scientific discoveries; Witnessed an event; ... Your research paper is a secondary source because you're analyzing and interpreting other sources.

  3. What is a Primary Source?

    For digitized archival material together with other kinds of primary sources: Finding Primary Sources Online offers general instructions for finding primary sources online and a list of resources by region and country; Online Primary Source Collections for the History of Science lists digital collections at Harvard and beyond by topic.

  4. Primary vs. Secondary Sources

    Primary sources provide raw information and first-hand evidence. Examples include interview transcripts, statistical data, and works of art. Primary research gives you direct access to the subject of your research. Secondary sources provide second-hand information and commentary from other researchers. Examples include journal articles, reviews ...

  5. What is a primary source?

    A primary source is an eyewitness account of an event or data obtained through original statistical or scientific research. What are some examples of primary sources? Secondary Source. A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may include pictures of ...

  6. Primary Research

    Primary research is any research that you conduct yourself. It can be as simple as a 2-question survey, or as in-depth as a years-long longitudinal study. The only key is that data must be collected firsthand by you. Primary research is often used to supplement or strengthen existing secondary research.

  7. What is Primary Research?

    Conducting primary research is a useful skill to acquire as it can greatly supplement your research in secondary sources, such as journals, magazines, or books. ... information has been published about the topic other than a few editorials and letters to the editor in the local paper. You can conduct primary research in the form of surveying ...

  8. Research Guides: Primary Sources: What is a Primary Source

    In the Sciences (biology, ecology, chemistry), primary source documents focus on original research, ideas, or findings published in academic journals. These articles mark the first publication of such research; and they detail the researcher's methodology and results. Plant or mineral samples and other artifacts are primary sources as well.

  9. Research Guides: Primary Sources: An Introduction: Home

    Primary Source Research. This is introductory description of what can be considered a primary source for the purposes of a research paper. Students and faculty have access to a wide range of primary source databases. It is highly recommended that student contact a liaison librarian for a research consultation when undertaking a research project ...

  10. Research Paper: A step-by-step guide: 4. Appropriate Sources

    Put simply, a primary source in the sciences would be the original research, data, or material that forms the basis for other research. For example, the first time research about a new scientific discovery is published would be the primary source. A paper that analyzes or interprets the original research would be a secondary source.

  11. Research Guides: Primary Sources: What They Are and Where to Find Them

    In the natural and social sciences, the results of an experiment or study are typically found in scholarly articles or papers delivered at conferences, so those articles and papers that present the original results are considered primary sources. A secondary source is something written about a primary source. Secondary sources include comments ...

  12. Choosing & Using Sources: A Guide to Academic Research

    Choosing & Using Sources presents a process for academic research and writing, from formulating your research question to selecting good information and using it effectively in your research assignments. Additional chapters cover understanding types of sources, searching for information, and avoiding plagiarism. Each chapter includes self-quizzes and activities to reinforce core concepts and ...

  13. Performing Academic Research: Primary and secondary sources

    It reports on the original work, the direct observation, or the firsthand experience. It will often use primary sources as examples. Secondary sources can include books, textbooks, newspapers, biographies, journal articles, movies and magazines. As with primary sources, the format is less important than the information being presented.

  14. Primary Sources

    Reviewing primary source material can be of value in improving your overall research paper because they: Are original materials, Were created from the time period involved, Have not been filtered through interpretation or evaluation by others, and; Represent original thinking or experiences, reporting of a discovery, or the sharing of new ...

  15. What Are Credible Sources & How to Spot Them

    If you use one of these in your research, it is probably a primary source. Primary sources are often considered the most credible in terms of providing evidence for your argument, as they give you direct evidence of what you are researching. However, it's up to you to ensure the information they provide is reliable and accurate.

  16. I have to write a research paper using primary sources. Where do I

    If you've never written a research paper using primary sources, it is important to understand that the process is different from using only secondary sources. Many students discover that finding and gaining access to primary source documents can be difficult. The Library website has a valuable guide to locating primary source documents.

  17. What is a primary source?

    The answer to this is not straightforward, but in general, the answer is: yes. When you conducted the interview yourself and included it as supporting evidence in your research paper, then the interview is definitely a primary source. Take a look at Is an interview a primary source? for more insight on this topic. 🖼️ Is a painting a ...

  18. What are primary sources?

    In the natural and social sciences, primary sources are often empirical studies—research where an experiment was performed or a direct observation was made. The results of empirical studies are typically found in scholarly articles or papers delivered at conferences.

  19. JSTOR Home

    Enrich your research with primary sources Enrich your research with primary sources. Explore millions of high-quality primary sources and images from around the world, including artworks, maps, photographs, and more. ... Part of UN Secretary-General Papers: Ban Ki-moon (2007-2016) Part of Perspectives on Terrorism, Vol. 12, No. 4 (August 2018)

  20. Primary vs. Secondary

    Primary sources can include: Texts of laws and other original documents. Newspaper reports, by reporters who witnessed an event or who quote people who did. Speeches, diaries, letters and interviews - what the people involved said or wrote. Original research. Datasets, survey data, such as census or economic statistics.

  21. Primary Sources

    Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to the truth of what actually happened during an historical event or time period. Primary source is a term used in a number of disciplines to describe source material that is closest to the person, information, period, or idea being studied. A primary source (also called original ...

  22. LibGuides: Research Basics: Primary vs. Secondary Sources

    The most common type of primary source used at Illinois Tech is the research paper written by the researcher(s) who actually carried out the work. These papers are typically published as articles in peer-reviewed journals but could also be in the form of a thesis or dissertation, research report, case study, clinical trial, etc.

  23. Is it Primary Research? How Do I Know?

    Simply limiting your search results in a database to "peer-reviewed" will not retrieve a list of only primary research studies. Learn to recognize the parts of a primary research study. Terminology will vary slightly from discipline to discipline and from journal to journal. However, there are common components to most research studies. STEP ONE:

  24. Basic principles of citation

    Each work cited must appear in the reference list, and each work in the reference list must be cited in the text (or in a table, figure, footnote, or appendix). Both paraphrasesand quotationsrequire citations. The following are guidelines to follow when writing in-text citations: Ensure that the spelling of author names and the publication ...

  25. Welcome to the Purdue Online Writing Lab

    Mission. The Purdue On-Campus Writing Lab and Purdue Online Writing Lab assist clients in their development as writers—no matter what their skill level—with on-campus consultations, online participation, and community engagement. The Purdue Writing Lab serves the Purdue, West Lafayette, campus and coordinates with local literacy initiatives.

  26. Microscopy Research and Technique

    Microscopy Research and Technique (MRT) is an international, advanced microscopy journal covering the fields of biological, clinical, chemical, & materials sciences. Abstract This study discusses the micro-level structural details of Cichorieae pollen sources elucidated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and explains their symmetry and ...

  27. A Narrative Review of LGBTQ+ Marketing Scholarship

    This paper reviewed LGBTQ+ research in marketing, focussing on whose voices are represented and how. There is a need for researchers in marketing to focus on LGBTQ+ people as the subject of the research and not just objects of the study. Future work should expand the LGBTQ+ populations considered by including the multiple under-researched ...

  28. Types of Sources Explained

    Revised on May 31, 2023. Throughout the research process, you'll likely use various types of sources. The source types commonly used in academic writing include: Academic journals. Books. Websites. Newspapers. Encyclopedias. The type of source you look for will depend on the stage you are at in the writing process.

  29. 3. Sources of local news

    The share of Americans who say they often or sometimes get local news and information from daily newspapers has dropped from 43% in 2018 to 33% today - putting newspapers on par with government agencies as a source of local news. About twice as many people say they at least sometimes get news from local TV stations (64%), but this also ...

  30. Immigrant Entrepreneurship: New Estimates and a Research Agenda

    Immigrants contribute disproportionately to entrepreneurship in many countries, accounting for a quarter of new employer businesses in the US. We review recent research on the measurement of immigrant entrepreneurship, the traits of immigrant founders, their economic impact, and policy levers. We ...