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ENG 112: Writing and Community

A guide with resources and information to support ENG 112.


Even within scholarly, full-text databases, using the CRAAP Test for evaluating information will ensure a critical focus on whatever sources are used in your research.  Here is a very small sampling of the databases available. Keep in mind that there are many more databases available through the library's website.

Types of Sources: Books, Scholarly Articles, and More

There are lots of different kinds of sources out there, and different ways to classify them. Yes, everyone knows what a book is, but do you know what type of book you may be holding in your hand as a potential source? (It matters when you are ready to cite it, so it does make a difference.) And can you tell the difference between a peer-reviewed article (sometimes called a scholarly article) and a newspaper or magazine (also called popular) article? What about trade articles--where do they fit in? There are times when your research calls for some pretty specific types of sources, so it's good to know what you're looking for.

To start with, you can watch this PALNI video by Joshua Vossler on the Types of Information.

Articles: Journal vs. Trade vs. Magazine

Peer-reviewed, or "scholarly" articles appear in academic or professional journals.  The term "peer-review" means that the content of each article is reviewed by experts for accuracy and authority prior to publication.  Common components of a scholarly article include author credentials, literature review, methodology (if a research article), findings (if a research article), conclusions and a reference bibliography. These articles are written for others in the same field of study, or students in that field.

Magazine articles often do not include a reference bibliography, and in some cases the author and credentials are not listed.  Without that type of information, it is difficult to verify the source.  For most research projects, your professors will expect you to use strong, verifiable sources that have undergone peer-review prior to publishing. Along with newspaper articles, magazine articles are considered popular articles, since they're written for a general audience.

Trade articles walk the line between scholary and popular--they're still written by experts and still include references, but the rigorous review that scholarly articles get isn't as intense, so it's a little more likely that mistakes will get through. However, because of the credentials of most authors of trade articles, and because they do still have an approval process before publishing, they are often considered good sources for certain research.

Scholarly, Trade, and Popular Articles PALNI video by Joshua Vossler


Peer review and magazine paragraphs courtesy of Edward Mandity.

Journals: Print or Electronic?

The Marian Libraries contains both print and electronic periodicals. Knowing the coverage of our holdings can be confusing, but here are some tips to better understand how we maintain our collection.

Sometimes we are limited by the publisher in the currency of certain electronic publications; not always the most current volume and issues are electronically available in full-text. This is called an embargo, or moving wall, whereby publishers set limits on access to encourage purchase of print publications.

Users then should search not only our E-journals A-Z list, but our catalog to determine whether we have access in print for content to which our databases don't provide access.

For example, using the eJournal A-Z list the journal Conservation Biology displays electronic access (from Ebsco's Academic Search Premier database) beginning in 1998, with the most current twelve months unavailable. Note however, that current issues in print are available on the second floor of the Hackelmeier library in the periodical collection. Not on the Marian main campus? Ask a librarian at your campus for a copy to be sent through Inter-Library Loan.

Additionally, users can try our new Browzine Web platform to search and browse all DOI cataloged journals we have available electronically.  Mobile device users will be required to install the free app.

Content courtesy of Edward Mandity.

Primary and Secondary Sources

Sometimes an instructor will ask you to find primary sources for a paper or project.  This can be a bit confusing to the beginner researcher, but a primary source is basically one that provides first-hand accounts on a topic.  While this can be historical documents like The Declaration of Independence or first-hand accounts of an event in a newspaper such as articles written or photos taken by people present at Boston's Great Molasses Flood, it can also be a work of literature or art, like the manuscript of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury or the original copy of the Mona Lisa.  Primary sources can also be peer-reviewed articles if the article is original research and not merely a summary of other people's research (called a literature review).

Secondary sources are sources that draw from primary sources--they follow or come second to the original.  A researcher studying the American Revolution might use The Declaration of Independence in his own research as a primary source, but the article he creates will be a secondary source, because it's building off the primary source.  A student giving a presentation on the Molasses Flood might use a photo of the destruction it caused as a primary source--but the student's presentation itself would be a secondary source.  Criticisms and analyses of novels, plays, poems, art, and other creative works would also be secondary.

Does this seem clearer?  It can be a bit more complex than that, because the focus of your study may not be the Mona Lisa but Leonardo DaVinci, in which case the Mona Lisa no longer is a primary source but becomes a secondary source, because your research is now focused on the creator and not the creation.  Maybe this video will explain it better:

Primary and Secondary Sources, a PALNI video by Joshua Vossler