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Sources: Scholarly, Popular, Trade, Primary, Secondary

Information about different types of sources.

Popular, Scholarly, Trade Sources

Source types: Learn about Popular, Scholarly, and Trade sources. Univ. of Tennessee Chattanooga.

Popular: Publications intended for a general audience of readers, they are written typically to entertain, inform, or persuade. Popular sources help you answer who, what, when, and where questions and are essential for finding information about current events or issues.

Scholarly: Publications intended for use in support of conducting in-depth research, often containing specialized vocabulary and references to sources. The content has been reviewed by academic peers to ensure the reliability of methods used and the validity of findings.

Trade: Sources intended to share general news, trends, and opinions among practitioners in a certain industry or profession. Although generally written by experts, they are not considered scholarly because they are not peer-reviewed and do not focus on advancing new knowledge discovery or reporting research results. Trade journals, however, are an essential source of information in the field of business.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources - presents key differences between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources in academic research. Created by Suffolk County Community College Library, JMM, 06-2012

Primary source: An original record of events, such as a diary, a newspaper article, a public record, or scientific documentation.

Secondary source: Materials such as books and journal articles that analyze primary sources. Secondary sources usually provide evaluation or interpretation of data or evidence found in original research or documents such as historical manuscripts or memoirs.

Peer-reviewed journals

Source: “Peer Review in 3 Minutes” by North Carolina State University Libraries, licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US License.

Peer-review: The process through which some scholarly articles go through prior to publication in a journal. Authors submit articles to a journal and the article is reviewed by experts in the field. Suggestions about the article are sent to the author for revision. This process continues until the experts deem the article acceptable for publication.

Other Sources and Definitions

Article: A brief piece of writing – generally between 1 and 35 pages in length - included with others in a journal, magazine, trade publication, or newspaper.

Book: A relatively lengthy work, often on a single topic. May be print or electronic.

Documentary film: A non-fiction motion picture intended to document reality for the educational purposes or to maintain a historical record.

Encyclopedia: Books with authoritative summary information about a variety of topics in the form of short essays, usually arranged alphabetically.

Journal: A publication, issued on a regular basis, which contains scholarly research published as articles, papers, research reports, or technical reports.

Magazine A publication, issued on a regular basis, containing popular articles, written and illustrated in a less technical manner than the articles found in a journal. Used to describe information sources that are not scholarly or peer-reviewed.

Newspaper: A publication containing information about varied topics that are pertinent to general information, a geographic area, or a specific subject matter (i.e. business, culture, education). Often published daily.

Periodical: An information source published in multiple parts at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, biannually). Journals, magazines, and newspapers are all periodicals.

Podcast:  A digital audio file available online for download or streaming, typically available as a series.

Social media: Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content and to interact with other users

Website: A group of related web pages located under a single domain name, typically produced by a person or organization.

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