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COMR 103: Speaking and Listening

Resources and info to support your speeches

Differentiating Resources for Research

Types of Sources

Primary Literature

  • in the sciences, written by the researcher who conducted the study
  • in the humanities, written as a firsthand account of an event, or a piece of writing being studied

Secondary Literature

  • in the sciences, written by someone reviewing the research of someone else
  • in the humanities, written about other pieces of writing and experiences

Tertiary Sources

  • are general explanations condensed from 'common knowledge' on the topic intended for a broad public audience 
  • are usually not credited to a particular author
  • are intended only to provide a superficial overview of what the topic includes, its basic terminology, and often references for further reading (which would usually be Secondary sources, produced by established 'experts' on the topic).
  • include dictionaries & encyclopedias, directories, handbooks, guidebooks and manuals, and statistics.‚Äč

Scholarly Literature

  • written by professors or experts, meant for academic consumption
  • (see tab for extended explanation)

Popular Literature

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Source type

Different types of sources contain different kinds of information. Considering the source type when searching for information and refining results will help you gain the best kinds of materials for your project based on the projected audience, purpose, and other needs.

In most databases, you'll encounter the following source types, often known by these names:

  • Article: relatively short (up to 50 pages) pieces of writing on a specific subject, from a specific perspective. Most scientific research is published in this medium, and many humanities scholars use articles as a platform to launch and test out new ideas for future books. 
  • Citation: a reference that points to the location of a work. Use citations to find the location, and request the full item through interlibrary loan.
  • Review: usually refers to a piece of scholarship that addresses the value of a book to the larger academic field, or one that discusses the state of an academic field as a whole.
  • Case study: a piece of research that examines a single instance (or a few instances) of a phenomenon in depth.
  • Book: a standalone piece of writing in monograph form.
  • Conference proceedings: a collection of short writings that were the basis for a presentation at a conference.
  • Magazines: collections of articles. Usually refers to popular resources.
  • Journal: collections of articles and reviews. Usually refers to scholarly resources, and may contain peer-reviewed articles.
  • Dissertation: the final stage of earning a Ph.D. Dissertations are heavily edited and supervised by major scholars in the field, but they are not peer reviewed.