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Summer Liberal Arts Institute: Exploring Global Pandemics

Library research in sociology, psychology, and politics

Source types


A source is anything from a book, journal article, newspaper article, blog, just to name a few. You will most likely use a variety of sources when writing a research paper. Sometimes professors will just say “source” as shorthand -- make sure you know what they’re talking about!

What is a monograph?

A monograph is an academic book written about a scholarly subject, often published by a University Press. It usually has one author (i.e. each chapter isn’t written by a different person), and it’s not a reprinted primary source or a piece of fiction or poetry.

Primary Sources

A primary source is an original work that scholars analyze in order to produce insight. These works can include correspondence, diaries, fiction/poetry, data sets, news media, phenomena, artwork, patents, artifacts, illustrations, manuscripts, and photographs. In the sciences, It can also include some peer-reviewed journal articles that report original research.

Secondary sources

Are the publications such as a monograph or peer-reviewed journal articles in which scholars present their analyses, insights, and claims. This can include works such as scholarly criticism, some peer-reviewed journal articles, or reviews of a text or scientific study. On occasion, things that were originally published as secondary sources can be analyzed by future scholars as primary artifacts about what scholarship was like at the time of the original publication. More examples below!

What are primary sources?

Primary sources are the original works, creations, or phenomena from a certain time period that scholars analyze in order to produce insight. Primary sources can include:

  • correspondence (personal and public)
  • fiction, (i.e poetry)
  • memoirs and diaries
  • artwork and photographs
  • artifacts
  • political demonstrations

Secondary sources

What is a peer-reviewed journal article?

It is a scholarly article that meets certain criteria set by a journal and has been read and approved by peer scholars. It presents original research, has been written for an audience of other experts, is often lengthy in nature, and has an extensive bibliography, evidence to mean that it has taken several years to write. You can find such articles in a periodical/journal.


 Also known as a persistent link, is a static hyperlink that gives you permanent access to a specific citation or a webpage. You can generate a permalink from Catalyst and some databases.


More journal types

Scholarly/Peer-reviewed journal:

  • Publish peer-reviewed/refereed articles
  • Devoted to research articles in one specific field of study
  • Include full citations
  • Include author information
  • Can contains ads -- usually for academic publishers, books, or databases
  • Examples: The American Historical Review, Journal of Black Studies, The Chaucer Review

Trade journal:

  • It's purpose is to keep the practitioner up to date in their industry (education, healthcare, media)
  • Includes job postings
  • Organizational news
  • Continuing education information
  • Editorials
  • Plenty of advertising
  • Example: Chronicle of Higher Education.

General interest magazine: 

  • Its purpose is to provide information to a broad audience of concerned citizens, not just to scholars
  • Written with any educated audience in mind
  • Usually written by a member of the editorial staff, a scholar, or a freelance writer  
  • Most have an attractive appearance with illustrations and photographs
  • Usually have some advertisements
  • Often have a political slant
  • Examples: National Geographic, The Atlantic.

Popular magazines:

  • Written almost exclusively for entertainment purposes
  • Articles are usually very short, but there are sometimes longer essays
  • Author credentials are not present
  • Sources are rarely cited
  • Often have large amounts of advertising
  • Examples: Vogue, Seventeen.