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Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources
Sources of information or evidence are often categorized as primary, secondary, or tertiary material. These classifications are based on the originality of the material and the proximity of the source or origin. This informs the reader as to whether the author is reporting information that is first hand or is conveying the experiences and opinions of others which is considered second hand. Determining if a source is primary, secondary or tertiary can be tricky. Below you will find a description of the three categories of information and examples to help you make a determination.
These sources are records of events or evidence as they are first described or actually happened without any interpretation or commentary. It is information that is shown for the first time or original materials on which other research is based. Primary sources display original thinking, report on new discoveries, or share fresh information.
Examples of primary sources: Theses, dissertations, scholarly journal articles (research based), some government reports, symposia and conference proceedings, original artwork, poems, photographs, speeches, letters, memos, personal narratives, diaries, interviews, autobiographies, and correspondence.
These sources offer an analysis or restatement of primary sources. They often try to describe or explain primary sources. They tend to be works which summarize, interpret, reorganize, or otherwise provide an added value to a primary source.
Examples of Secondary Sources: Textbooks, edited works, books and articles that interpret or review research works, histories, biographies, literary criticism and interpretation, reviews of law and legislation, political analyses and commentaries.
These are sources that index, abstract, organize, compile, or digest other sources. Some reference materials and textbooks are considered tertiary sources when their chief purpose is to list, summarize or simply repackage ideas or other information. Tertiary sources are usually not credited to a particular author.
Examples of Tertiary Sources: Dictionaries/encyclopedias (may also be secondary), almanacs, fact books, Wikipedia, bibliographies (may also be secondary), directories, guidebooks, manuals, handbooks, and textbooks (may be secondary), indexing and abstracting sources.
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The Literature Review
- Publications: A World of Information
Primary sources, secondary sources, tertiary sources.
- Types of Reviews and Their Differences
- Information Sources: Where to Find Them
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Scholarly, professional literature falls under 3 categories, primary, secondary, and tertiary. Published works (also known as a publication) may fall into one or more of these categories, depending on the discipline. See definitions and linked examples of primary, secondary, and tertiary sources.
Differences in Publishing Norms by Broader Discipline
Scholarly and professional communication norms can be different among various disciplines. For instance, scholars in political science or law will generally publish their knowledge and research differently than those in chemistry or physics. To show these distinctions, examples of primary, secondary and tertiary sources are provided for humanities and the sciences and include links. Social science disciplines like sociology and business tend to use publications from both the sciences and humanities.
If you are in STEM or Nursing, see these examples of primary, secondary and tertiary literature within your disciplines:
- Nursing - Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources (Using Library Resources for Information and Research)
- STEM: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources (Guide to Science Information Sources)
Image: Typewriter, by DanielMcCullough , Permission by Unsplash.com license .
A primary source is a document or work where its author had a direct interaction or was involved with what was studied or created. These sources are recommended when you need to get information or findings that are a direct result or finding from a study, research, or creation. A primary source can also be an actual creative work or original material.
- Magazine or newspaper articles
- Creative works ( literature , poetry , fiction books, film, works of art or design, performances)
- Autobiographies and memoirs
- Interviews and oral histories
- Laws, statutes and official documents
Science / Health Sciences:
- Reports of original research : journal articles, poster presentations, conference papers
- Theses & dissertations
- Technical reports
Image: Library stacks. Permission by Pixabay.com license .
A secondary source is a document or work where its author had an indirect part in a study or creation; an author is usually writing about or reporting the work or research done by someone else. Secondary sources can be used for additional or supporting information; they are not the direct product of research or the making of a creative work.
- Books (monographs) written about a topic
- Articles: Criticism or interpretation of creative works
- Reviews of creative works
- Textbooks and books
- Reviews: Literature or systematic
- Articles in trade journals (not based on research)
- Opinion pieces or commentaries
Image: Encyclopedias, by StockSnap, Permission by Pixabay.com license .
A tertiary source provides agreed-upon facts like measurements, dates, and definitions. They are usually known as reference works and include the following:
- Standards : a document with specifications that create rules, guidelines or characteristics to ensure that materials, processes, or services are fit for their purpose. They are established by a professional organization to provide a baseline of acceptable quality.
- Handbooks and manuals : a resource that summarizes major topics or processes within a field. These often provide established measurements, definitions or research methods.
- Pathfinders ( Research Guides ): a list of recommended information sources on a topic or discipline.
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The Literature refers to the collection of scholarly writings on a topic. This includes peer-reviewed articles, books, dissertations and conference papers.
- When reviewing the literature, be sure to include major works as well as studies that respond to major works. You will want to focus on primary sources, though secondary sources can be valuable as well.
The term primary source is used broadly to embody all sources that are original. P rimary sources provide first-hand information that is closest to the object of study. Primary sources vary by discipline.
- In the natural and social sciences, original reports of research found in academic journals detailing the methodology used in the research, in-depth descriptions, and discussions of the findings are considered primary sources of information.
- Other common examples of primary sources include speeches, letters, diaries, autobiographies, interviews, official reports, court records, artifacts, photographs, and drawings.
Galvan, J. L. (2013). Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences . Glendale, CA: Pyrczak.
Persaud, N. (2010). Primary data source. In N. Salkind (Ed.), Encyclopedia of research design. (pp. 1095-1098). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
A secondary source is a source that provides non-original or secondhand data or information.
- Secondary sources are written about primary sources.
- Research summaries reported in textbooks, magazines, and newspapers are considered secondary sources. They typically provide global descriptions of results with few details on the methodology. Other examples of secondary sources include biographies and critical studies of an author's work.
Secondary Source. (2005). In W. Paul Vogt (Ed.), Dictionary of Statistics & Methodology. (3 rd ed., p. 291). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Weidenborner, S., & Caruso, D. (1997). Writing research papers: A guide to the process . New York: St. Martin's Press.
More Examples of Primary and Secondary Sources
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Chapter 5: The Literature Review
5.3 Acceptable sources for literature reviews
Following are a few acceptable sources for literature reviews, listed in order from what will be considered most acceptable to less acceptable sources for your literature review assignments:
- Peer reviewed journal articles.
- Edited academic books.
- Articles in professional journals.
- Statistical data from government websites.
- Website material from professional associations (use sparingly and carefully). The following sections will explain and provide examples of these various sources.
Peer reviewed journal articles (papers)
A peer reviewed journal article is a paper that has been submitted to a scholarly journal, accepted, and published. Peer review journal papers go through a rigorous, blind review process of peer review. What this means is that two to three experts in the area of research featured in the paper have reviewed and accepted the paper for publication. The names of the author(s) who are seeking to publish the research have been removed (blind review), so as to minimize any bias towards the authors of the research (albeit, sometimes a savvy reviewer can discern who has done the research based upon previous publications, etc.). This blind review process can be long (often 12 to 18 months) and may involve many back and forth edits on the behalf of the researchers, as they work to address the edits and concerns of the peers who reviewed their paper. Often, reviewers will reject the paper for a variety of reasons, such as unclear or questionable methods, lack of contribution to the field, etc. Because peer reviewed journal articles have gone through a rigorous process of review, they are considered to be the premier source for research. Peer reviewed journal articles should serve as the foundation for your literature review.
The following link will provide more information on peer reviewed journal articles. Make sure you watch the little video on the upper left-hand side of your screen, in addition to reading the material at the following website: http://guides.lib.jjay.cuny.edu/c.php?g=288333&p=1922599
Edited academic books
An edited academic book is a collection of scholarly scientific papers written by different authors. The works are original papers, not published elsewhere (“Edited volume,” 2018). The papers within the text also go through a process of review; however, the review is often not a blind review because the authors have been invited to contribute to the book. Consequently, edited academic books are fine to use for your literature review, but you also want to ensure that your literature review contains mostly peer reviewed journal papers.
Articles in professional journals
Articles from professional journals should be used with caution for your literature review. This is because articles in trade journals are not usually peer reviewed, even though they may appear to be. A good way to find out is to read the “About Us” section of the professional journal, which should state whether or not the papers are peer reviewed. You can also find out by Googling the name of the journal and adding “peer reviewed” to the search.
Statistical data from governmental websites
Governmental websites can be excellent sources for statistical data, e.g, Statistics Canada collects and publishes data related to the economy, society, and the environment (see https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/start ).
Website material from professional associations
Material from other websites can also serve as a source for statistics that you may need for your literature review. Since you want to justify the value of the research that interests you, you might make use of a professional association’s website to learn how many members they have, for example. You might want to demonstrate, as part of the introduction to your literature review, why more research on the topic of PTSD in police officers is important. You could use peer reviewed journal articles to determine the prevalence of PTSD in police officers in Canada in the last ten years, and then use the Ontario Police Officers´ Association website to determine the approximate number of police officers employed in the Province of Ontario over the last ten years. This might help you estimate how many police officers could be suffering with PTSD in Ontario. That number could potentially help to justify a research grant down the road. But again, this type of website- based material should be used with caution and sparingly.
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Primary and secondary sources
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- Primary vs secondary sources: The differences explained
Can something be both a primary and secondary source?
Primary vs secondary sources: the differences explained.
Whether or not a source can be considered both primary and secondary, depends on the context. In some instances, material may act as a secondary source for one research area, and as a primary source for another. For example, Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince , published in 1513, is an important secondary source for any study of the various Renaissance princes in the Medici family; but the same book is also a primary source for the political thought that was characteristic of the sixteenth century because it reflects the attitudes of a person living in the 1500s.
Source: Craver, 1999, as cited in University of South Australia Library. (2021, Oct 6). Can something be a primary and secondary source?. University of South Australia Library. https://guides.library.unisa.edu.au/historycultural/sourcetypes
Research for your literature review can be categorised as either primary or secondary in nature. The simplest definition of primary sources is either original information (such as survey data) or a first person account of an event (such as an interview transcript). Whereas secondary sources are any publshed or unpublished works that describe, summarise, analyse, evaluate, interpret or review primary source materials. Secondary sources can incorporate primary sources to support their arguments.
Ideally, good research should use a combination of both primary and secondary sources. For example, if a researcher were to investigate the introduction of a law and the impacts it had on a community, he/she might look at the transcripts of the parliamentary debates as well as the parliamentary commentary and news reporting surrounding the laws at the time.
Examples of primary and secondary sources
Finding primary sources
- VU Special Collections - The Special Collections at Victoria University Library are a valuable research resource. The Collections have strong threads of radical literature, particularly Australian Communist literature, much of which is rare or unique. Women and urban planning also feature across the Collections. There are collections that give you a picture of the people who donated them like Ray Verrills, John McLaren, Sir Zelman Cowen, and Ruth & Maurie Crow. Other collections focus on Australia's neighbours – PNG and Timor-Leste.
- POLICY - Sharing the latest in policy knowledge and evidence, this database supports enhanced learning, collaboration and contribution.
- Indigenous Australia - The Indigenous Australia database represents the collections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Library.
- Australian Heritage Bibliography - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Subset (AHB-ATSIS) - AHB is a bibliographic database that indexes and abstracts articles from published and unpublished material on Australia's natural and cultural environment. The AHB-ATSIS subset contains records that specifically relate to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.include journal articles, unpublished reports, books, videos and conference proceedings from many different sources around Australia. Emphasis is placed on reports written or commissioned by government and non-government heritage agencies throughout the country.
- ATSIhealth - The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Bibliography (ATSIhealth), compiled by Neil Thomson and Natalie Weissofner at the School of Indigenous Australian Studies, Kurongkurl Katitjin, Edith Cowan University, is a bibliographic database that indexes published and unpublished material on Australian Indigenous health. Source documents include theses, unpublished articles, government reports, conference papers, abstracts, book chapters, books, discussion and working papers, and statistical documents.
- National Archive of Australia - The National Archives of Australia holds the memory of our nation and keeps vital Australian Government records safe.
- National Library of Australia: Manuscripts - Manuscripts collection that is wide ranging and provides rich evidence of the lives and activities of Australians who have shaped our society.
- National Library of Australia: Printed ephemera - The National Library has been selectively collecting Australian printed ephemera since the early 1960s as a record of Australian life and social customs, popular culture, national events, and issues of national concern.
- National Library of Australia: Oral history and folklore - The Library’s Oral History and Folklore Collection dates back to the 1950’s and includes a rich and diverse collection of interviews and recordings with Australians from all walks of life.
- Historic Hansard - Commonwealth of Australia parliamentary debates presented in an easy-to-read format for historians and other lovers of political speech.
- The Old Bailey Online - A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court.
- British Library Sounds - Listen to a selection from the British Library’s extensive collections of unique sound recordings, which come from all over the world and cover the entire range of recorded sound: music, drama and literature, oral history, wildlife and environmental sounds.
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Literature review sources
Sources for literature review can be divided into three categories as illustrated in table below. In your dissertation you will need to use all three categories of literature review sources:
Sources for literature review and examples
Generally, your literature review should integrate a wide range of sources such as:
- Books . Textbooks remain as the most important source to find models and theories related to the research area. Research the most respected authorities in your selected research area and find the latest editions of books authored by them. For example, in the area of marketing the most notable authors include Philip Kotler, Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, Emanuel Rosen and others.
- Magazines . Industry-specific magazines are usually rich in scholarly articles and they can be effective source to learn about the latest trends and developments in the research area. Reading industry magazines can be the most enjoyable part of the literature review, assuming that your selected research area represents an area of your personal and professional interests, which should be the case anyways.
- Newspapers can be referred to as the main source of up-to-date news about the latest events related to the research area. However, the proportion of the use of newspapers in literature review is recommended to be less compared to alternative sources of secondary data such as books and magazines. This is due to the fact that newspaper articles mainly lack depth of analyses and discussions.
- Online articles . You can find online versions of all of the above sources. However, note that the levels of reliability of online articles can be highly compromised depending on the source due to the high levels of ease with which articles can be published online. Opinions offered in a wide range of online discussion blogs cannot be usually used in literature review. Similarly, dissertation assessors are not keen to appreciate references to a wide range of blogs, unless articles in these blogs are authored by respected authorities in the research area.
Your secondary data sources may comprise certain amount of grey literature as well. The term grey literature refers to type of literature produced by government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, which is not controlled by commercial publishers. It is called ‘grey’ because the status of the information in grey literature is not certain. In other words, any publication that has not been peer reviewed for publication is grey literature.
The necessity to use grey literature arises when there is no enough peer reviewed publications are available for the subject of your study.
Literature Reviews: Types of Literature
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Different types of publications have different characteristics.
Primary Literature Primary sources means original studies, based on direct observation, use of statistical records, interviews, or experimental methods, of actual practices or the actual impact of practices or policies. They are authored by researchers, contains original research data, and are usually published in a peer-reviewed journal. Primary literature may also include conference papers, pre-prints, or preliminary reports. Also called empirical research .
Secondary Literature Secondary literature consists of interpretations and evaluations that are derived from or refer to the primary source literature. Examples include review articles (such as meta-analysis and systematic reviews) and reference works. Professionals within each discipline take the primary literature and synthesize, generalize, and integrate new research.
Tertiary Literature Tertiary literature consists of a distillation and collection of primary and secondary sources such as textbooks, encyclopedia articles, and guidebooks or handbooks. The purpose of tertiary literature is to provide an overview of key research findings and an introduction to principles and practices within the discipline.
Adapted from the Information Services Department of the Library of the Health Sciences-Chicago , University of Illinois at Chicago.
Types of Scientific Publications
These examples and descriptions of publication types will give you an idea of how to use various works and why you would want to write a particular kind of paper.
- Scholarly article aka empirical article
- Review article
- Conference paper
Scholarly (aka empirical) article -- example
Empirical studies use data derived from observation or experiment. Original research papers (also called primary research articles) that describe empirical studies and their results are published in academic journals. Articles that report empirical research contain different sections which relate to the steps of the scientific method.
Abstract - The abstract provides a very brief summary of the research.
Introduction - The introduction sets the research in a context, which provides a review of related research and develops the hypotheses for the research.
Method - The method section describes how the research was conducted.
Results - The results section describes the outcomes of the study.
Discussion - The discussion section contains the interpretations and implications of the study.
References - A references section lists the articles, books, and other material cited in the report.
Review article -- example
A review article summarizes a particular field of study and places the recent research in context. It provides an overview and is an excellent introduction to a subject area. The references used in a review article are helpful as they lead to more in-depth research.
Many databases have limits or filters to search for review articles. You can also search by keywords like review article, survey, overview, summary, etc.
Conference proceedings, abstracts and reports -- example
Conference proceedings, abstracts and reports are not usually peer-reviewed. A conference article is similar to a scholarly article insofar as it is academic. Conference articles are published much more quickly than scholarly articles. You can find conference papers in many of the same places as scholarly articles.
How Do You Identify Empirical Articles?
To identify an article based on empirical research, look for the following characteristics:
The article is published in a peer-reviewed journal .
The article includes charts, graphs, or statistical analysis .
The article is substantial in size , likely to be more than 5 pages long.
The article contains the following parts (the exact terms may vary): abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, references .
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Literature Review: Lit Review Sources
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Where do I find information for a literature review?
Research is done by...
...by way of...
...and organized in...
Types of sources for a review...
- Primary source: Usually a report by the original researchers of a study (unfiltered sources)
- Secondary source: Description or summary by somebody other than the original researcher, e.g. a review article (filtered sources)
- Conceptual/theoretical: Papers concerned with description or analysis of theories or concepts associated with the topic
- Anecdotal/opinion/clinical: Views or opinions about the subject that are not research, review or theoretical (case studies or reports from clinical settings)
A Heirarchy of research information:
Source: SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Medical Research Library of Brooklyn. Evidence Based Medicine Course. A Guide to Research Methods: The Evidence Pyramid: http://library.downstate.edu/EBM2/2100.htm
Life Cycle of Publication
Click image to enlarge
Scientific information has a ‘life cycle’ of its own… it is born as an idea, and then matures and becomes more available to the public. First it appears within the so-called ‘invisible college’ of experts in the field, discussed at conferences and symposia or posted as pre-prints for comments and corrections. Then it appears in the published literature (the primary literature), often as a journal article in a peer-reviewed journal.
Researchers can use the indexing and alerting services of the secondary literature to find out what has been published in a field. Depending on how much information is added by the indexer or abstracter, this may take a few months (though electronic publication has sped up this process). Finally, the information may appear in more popular or reference sources, sometimes called the tertiary literature.
The person beginning a literature search may take this process in reverse: using tertiary sources for general background, then going to the secondary literature to survey what has been published, following up by finding the original (primary) sources, and generating their own research Idea.
(Original content by Wade Lee-Smith)
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Chapter 2: What is a Literature Review?
At the conclusion of this chapter, you will be able to:
- Recognize how information is created and how it evolves over time.
- Identify how the information cycle impacts the reliability of the information.
- Select information sources appropriate to information need.
2.1 Overview of information
Because a literature review is a summary and analysis of the relevant publications on a topic, we first have to understand what is meant by ‘the literature’. In this case, ‘the literature’ is a collection of all of the relevant written sources on a topic. It will include both theoretical and empirical works. Both types provide scope and depth to a literature review.
2.1.1 Disciplines of knowledge
When drawing boundaries around an idea, topic, or subject area, it helps to think about how and where the information for the field is produced. For this, you need to identify the disciplines of knowledge production in a subject area.
Information does not exist in the environment like some kind of raw material. It is produced by individuals working within a particular field of knowledge who use specific methods for generating new information. Disciplines are knowledge-producing and -disseminating systems which consume, produce and disseminate knowledge. Looking through a course catalog of a post-secondary educational institution gives clues to the structure of a discipline structure. Fields such as political science, biology, history and mathematics are unique disciplines, as are education and nursing, with their own logic for how and where new knowledge is introduced and made accessible.
You will need to become comfortable with identifying the disciplines that might contribute information to any search strategy. When you do this, you will also learn how to decode the way how people talk about a topic within a discipline. This will be useful to you when you begin a review of the literature in your area of study.
For example, think about the disciplines that might contribute information to a the topic such as the role of sports in society. Try to anticipate the type of perspective each discipline might have on the topic. Consider the following types of questions as you examine what different disciplines might contribute:
- What is important about the topic to the people in that discipline?
- What is most likely to be the focus of their study about the topic?
- What perspective would they be likely to have on the topic?
In this example, we identify two disciplines that have something to say about the role of sports in society: allied health and education. What would each of these disciplines raise as key questions or issues related to that topic?
- how sports affect individuals’ health and well-being
- assessing and treating sports injuries
- physical conditioning for athletes
- how schools privilege or punish student athletes
- how young people are socialized into the ideal of team cooperation
- differences between boys’ and girls’ participation in organized sports
We see that a single topic can be approached from many different perspectives depending on how the disciplinary boundaries are drawn and how the topic is framed. This step of the research process requires you to make some decisions early on to focus the topic on a manageable and appropriate scope for the rest of the strategy. ( Hansen & Paul, 2015 ).
‘The literature’ consists of the published works that document a scholarly conversation in a field of study. You will find, in ‘the literature,’ documents that explain the background of your topic so the reader knows where you found loose ends in the established research of the field and what led you to your own project. Although your own literature review will focus on primary, peer-reviewed resources, it will begin by first grounding yourself in background subject information generally found in secondary and tertiary sources such as books and encyclopedias. Once you have that essential overview, you delve into the seminal literature of the field. As a result, while your literature review may consist of research articles tightly focused on your topic with secondary and tertiary sources used more sparingly, all three types of information (primary, secondary, tertiary) are critical to your research.
- Theoretical – discusses a theory, conceptual model or framework for understanding a problem.
- Empirical – applies theory to a behavior or event and reports derived data to findings.
- Seminal – “A classic work of research literature that is more than 5 years old and is marked by its uniqueness and contribution to professional knowledge.” ( Houser, 4th ed., 2018, p. 112 ).
- Practical – “…accounts of how things are done” ( Wallace & Wray, 3rd ed., 2016, p. 20 ). Action research, in Education, refers to a wide variety of methods used to develop practical solutions. ( Great Schools Partnership, 2017 ).
- Policy – generally produced by policy-makers, such as government agencies.
- Primary – published results of original research studies .
- Secondary – interpret, discuss, summarize original sources
- Tertiary – synthesize or distill primary and secondary sources. Examples include: encyclopedias, directories, dictionaries, handbooks, guides, classification, chronology, and other fact books.
- Grey literature – research and information released by non-commercial publishers, such as government agencies, policy organizations, and think-tanks.
‘The literature’ is published in books, journal articles, conference proceedings, theses and dissertations. It can also be found in newspapers, encyclopedias, textbooks, as well as websites and reports written by government agencies and professional organizations. While these formats may contain what we define as ‘the literature’, not all of it will be appropriate for inclusion in your own literature review.
These sources are found through different tools that we will discuss later in this section. Although a discovery tool, such as a database or catalog, may link you to the ‘the literature’ not every tool is appropriate to every literature review. No single source will have all of the information resources you should consult. A comprehensive literature review should include searches in the following:
- Multiple subject and article databases
- Library and other book catalogs
- Grey literature sources
2.2 Information Cycle
To get a better idea of how the literature in a discipline develops, it’s useful to see how the information publication lifecycle works. These distinct stages show how information is created, reviewed, and distributed over time.
The following chart can be used to guide you in searching literature existing at various stages of the scholarly communication process (freely accessible sources are linked, subscription or subscribed sources are listed but not linked):
2.3 Information Types
To continue our discussion of information sources, there are two ways published information in the field can be categorized:
- Articles by the type of periodical in which an article it is published, for example, magazine, trade, or scholarly publications .
- Where the material is located in the information cycle, as in primary, secondary, or tertiary information sources .
2.3.1 Popular, Trade, or Scholarly publications
220.127.116.11 types of periodicals.
Journals, trade publications, and magazines are all periodicals, and articles from these publications they can all look similar article by article when you are searching in the databases. It is good to review the differences and think about when to use information from each type of periodical.
A magazine is a collection of articles and images about diverse topics of popular interest and current events.
Features of magazines:
- articles are usually written by journalists
- articles are written for the average adult
- articles tend to be short
- articles rarely provides a list of reference sources at the end of the article
- lots of color images and advertisements
- the decision about what goes into the magazine is made by an editor or publisher
- magazines can have broad appeal, like Time and Newsweek , or a narrow focus, like Sports Illustrated and Mother Earth News .
Popular magazines like Psychology Today , Sports Illustrated , and Rolling Stone can be good sources for articles on recent events or pop-culture topics, while Harpers , Scientific American , and The New Republic will offer more in-depth articles on a wider range of subjects. These articles are geared towards readers who, although not experts, are knowledgeable about the issues presented.
18.104.22.168 Trade Publications
Trade publications or trade journals are periodicals directed to members of a specific profession. They often have information about industry trends and practical information for people working in the field.
Features of trade publications:
- Authors are specialists in their fields
- Focused on members of a specific industry or profession
- No peer review process
- Include photographs, illustrations, charts, and graphs, often in color
- Technical vocabulary
Trade publications are geared towards professionals in a discipline. They report news and trends in a field, but not original research. They may provide product or service reviews, job listings, and advertisements.
22.214.171.124 Scholarly, Academic, and Scientific Publications
Scholarly, academic, and scientific publications are a collections of articles written by scholars in an academic or professional field. Most journals are peer-reviewed or refereed, which means a panel of scholars reviews articles to decide if they should be accepted into a specific publication. Journal articles are the main source of information for researchers and for literature reviews.
Features of journals:
- written by scholars and subject experts
- author’ credentials and institution will be identified
- written for other scholars
- dedicated to a specific discipline that it covers in depth
- often report on original or innovative research
- long articles, often 5-15 pages or more
- articles almost always include a list of sources at the end (Works Cited, References, Sources, or Bibliography) that point back to where the information was derived
- no or very few advertisements
- published by organizations or associations to advance their specialized body of knowledge
Scholarly journals provider articles of interest to experts or researchers in a discipline. An editorial board of respected scholars (peers) reviews all articles submitted to a journal. They decide if the article provides a noteworthy contribution to the field and should be published. There are typically few little or no advertisements. Articles published in scholarly journals will include a list of references.
126.96.36.199 A word about open access journals
Increasingly, scholars are publishing findings and original research in open access journals . Open access journals are scholarly and peer-reviewed and open access publishers provide unrestricted access and unrestricted use. Open access is a means of disseminating scholarly research that breaks from the traditional subscription model of academic publishing. It is free of charge to readers and because it is online, it is available at anytime, anywhere in the world, to anyone with access to the internet. The Directory of Open Access Journals ( DOAJ ) indexes and provides access to high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarly articles.
In summary, newspapers and other popular press publications are useful for getting general topic ideas. Trade publications are useful for practical application in a profession and may also be a good source of keywords for future searching. Scholarly journals are the conversation of the scholars who are doing research in a specific discipline and publishing their research findings.
188.8.131.52 Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources
Primary sources of information are those types of information that come first. Some examples of primary sources are:
- original research, like data from an experiment with plankton.
- diaries, journals, photographs
- data from the census bureau or a survey you have done
- original documents, like the constitution or a birth certificate
- newspapers are primary sources when they report current events or current opinion
- speeches, interviews, email, letters
- religious books
- personal memoirs and autobiographies
- pottery or weavings
There are different types of primary sources for different disciplines. In the discipline of history, for example, a diary or transcript of a speech is a primary source. In education and nursing, primary sources will generally be original research, including data sets.
Secondary sources are written about primary sources to interpret or analyze them. They are a step or more removed from the primary event or item. Some examples of secondary sources are:
- commentaries on speeches
- critiques of plays, journalism, or books
- a journal article that talks about a primary source such as an interpretation of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, or the flower symbolism of Monet’s water garden paintings
- textbooks (can also be considered tertiary)
Tertiary sources are further removed from the original material and are a distillation and collection of primary and secondary sources. Some examples are:
- bibliography of critical works about an author
- textbooks (also considered secondary)
A comparison of information sources across disciplines:
2.4 Information Sources
In this section, we discuss how to find not only information, but the sources of information in your discipline or topic area. As we see in the graphic and chart above, the information you need for your literature review will be located in multiple places. How and where research and publication occurs drives how and where the information is located, which in turn determines how you will discover and retrieve it. When we talk about information sources for a literature review in education or nursing, we generally mean these five areas: the internet, reference material and other books, empirical or evidence-based articles in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings and papers, dissertations and theses, and grey literature.
The World Wide Web can be an excellent place to satisfy some initial research needs.
- It is a good resource for background information and for finding keywords for searching in the library catalog and databases.
- It is a good tool for locating professional organizations and searching for information and the names of experts in a given discipline.
- Google Scholar is a useful discovery tool for citations, especially if you are trying to get the lay of the land surrounding your topic or if you are having a problem with keywords in the databases. You can find some information to refine your search terms. It is NOT acceptable to depend on Google Scholar for finding articles because of the spotty coverage and lack of adequate search features.
2.4.2 Books and Reference Sources
Reference materials and books are available in both print and electronic formats. They provide gateway knowledge to a subject area and are useful at the beginning of the research process to:
- Get an overview of the topic, learn the scope, key definitions, significant figures who are involved, and important timelines
- Discover the foundations of a topic
- Learn essential definitions, vocabulary terms, and keywords you can use in your literature searching strategy
2.4.3 Scholarly Articles in Journals
Another major category of information sources is scholarly information produced by subject experts working in academic institutions, research centers and scholarly organizations. Scholars and researchers generate information that advances our knowledge and understanding of the world. The research they do creates new opportunities for inventions, practical applications, and new approaches to solving problems or understanding issues.
Academics, researchers and students at universities make their contributions to scholarly knowledge available in many forms:
- masters’ theses
- doctoral dissertations
- conference papers
- journal articles and books
- individual scholars’ web pages
- web pages developed by the researcher’s’ home institution (Hansen & Paul, 2015).
Scholars and researchers introduce their discoveries to the world in a formal system of information dissemination that has developed over centuries. Because scholarly research undergoes a process of “peer review” before being published (meaning that other experts review the work and pass judgment about whether it is worthy of publication), the information you find from scholarly sources meets preset standards for accuracy, credibility and validity in that field.
Likewise, scholarly journal articles are generally considered to be among the most reliable sources of information because they have gone through a peer-review process.
2.4.5 Conference Papers & Proceedings
Conferences are a major source of emerging research where researchers present papers on their current research and obtain feedback from the audience. The papers presented in the conference are then usually published in a volume called a conference proceeding. Conference proceedings highlight current discussion in a discipline and can lead you to scholars who are interested in specific research areas.
A word about conference papers: several factors contribute to making these documents difficult to find. It may be months before a paper is published as a journal article, or it may never be published. Publishers and professional associations are inconsistent in how they publish proceedings. For example, the papers from an annual conference may be published as individual, stand-alone titles, which may be indexed in a library catalog, or the conference proceedings may be treated more like a periodical or serial and, therefore, indexed in a journal database.
It is not unusual that papers delivered at professional conferences are not published in print or electronic form, although an abstract may be available. In these cases, the full paper may only be available from the author or authors.
The most important thing to remember is that if you have any difficulty finding a conference proceeding or paper, ask a librarian for assistance.
2.4.6 Dissertations and Theses
Dissertations and theses can be rich sources of information and have extensive reference lists to scan for resources. They are considered gray literature, so are not “peer reviewed”. The accuracy and validity of the paper itself may depend on the school that awarded the doctoral or master’s degree to the author.
In thinking about ‘the literature’ of your discipline, you are beginning the first step in writing your own literature review. By understanding what the literature in your field is, as well as how and when it is generated, you begin to know what is available and where to look for it.
We briefly discussed seven types of (sometimes overlapping) information:
- information found on the web
- information found in reference books and monographs
- information found in scholarly journals
- information found in conference proceedings and papers
- information found in dissertations and theses
- information found in magazines and trade journals
- information that is primary, secondary, or tertiary.
By conceptualizing or scoping how and where the literature of your discipline or topic area is generated, you have started on your way to writing your own literature review.
“All information sources are not created equal. Sources can vary greatly in terms of how carefully they are researched, written, edited, and reviewed for accuracy. Common sense will help you identify obviously questionable sources, such as tabloids that feature tales of alien abductions, or personal websites with glaring typos. Sometimes, however, a source’s reliability—or lack of it—is not so obvious…You will consider criteria such as the type of source, its intended purpose and audience, the author’s (or authors’) qualifications, the publication’s reputation, any indications of bias or hidden agendas, how current the source is, and the overall quality of the writing, thinking, and design.” ( Writing for Success, 2015, p. 448 ).
We will cover how to evaluate sources in more detail in Chapter 5.
For each of these information needs, indicate what resources would be the best fit to answer your question. There may be more than one source so don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to only one. See Answer Key for the correct response.
- You are to write a brief paper on a theory that you only vaguely understand. You need some basic information. Where would you look?
- If you heard something on the radio about a recent research involving an herbal intervention for weight loss where could you find the actual study?
- You are going to be doing an internship in a group home for young men. You have heard that one issue that comes up for them is anger. Where would you look for practical interventions to help you manage this problem if it came up?
- You have the opportunity to work on a research project through a grant proposal. You need to justify the research question and show that there is an interest and a need for this research. What resources would you cite in your application?
- You have been assigned a project to find primary sources about classroom discipline used in early 20th-century schools. What primary sources could you use and where would you find them?
- You have an idea for a great thesis but you are afraid that it has been done before. Since you would like to do something original, where could you find out if someone else has done the project?
- There was a post on Facebook that welfare recipients in Arizona were recently tested for drug use with only three in 140,000 having positive results. Where can I find out if this number is accurate?
Question 1 match the type of periodical to its content.
Trade publication Scholarly journal Magazine
- Contains articles about a variety of topics of popular interest; also contains advertising.
- Has information about industry trends and practical information for professionals in a field.
- Contains articles written by scholars in an academic field and reviewed by experts in that field.
Question 2: Given what you know about information types and sources, put the following information sources in order from the least accurate and reliable to the most accurate and reliable. (1 least accurate/4 most accurate)
- Books and encyclopedias
- News broadcasts and social media directly following an event.
- Analysis of an event in the news media or popular magazine weeks after an event.
- Articles written by scholars and published in a journal.
Question 3: What is information called that is either a diary, a speech, original research, data, artwork, or a religious book.
Question 4: to find the best information in the databases you need to use keywords that are used by the scholars. where do you find out what keywords to try.
- From websites
- In journal articles
- All of the above
Question 5: Which of the following is NOT true about scholarly journals?
- They contain the conversation of the scholars on a particular subject.
- They are of interest to the general public.
- The articles are followed by an extensive reference list.
- They contain reports of original research.
Literature Reviews for Education and Nursing Graduate Students by Linda Frederiksen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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What this handout is about.
This handout will explain what literature reviews are and offer insights into the form and construction of literature reviews in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.
OK. You’ve got to write a literature review. You dust off a novel and a book of poetry, settle down in your chair, and get ready to issue a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” as you leaf through the pages. “Literature review” done. Right?
Wrong! The “literature” of a literature review refers to any collection of materials on a topic, not necessarily the great literary texts of the world. “Literature” could be anything from a set of government pamphlets on British colonial methods in Africa to scholarly articles on the treatment of a torn ACL. And a review does not necessarily mean that your reader wants you to give your personal opinion on whether or not you liked these sources.
What is a literature review, then?
A literature review discusses published information in a particular subject area, and sometimes information in a particular subject area within a certain time period.
A literature review can be just a simple summary of the sources, but it usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information. It might give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations. Or it might trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates. And depending on the situation, the literature review may evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant.
But how is a literature review different from an academic research paper?
The main focus of an academic research paper is to develop a new argument, and a research paper is likely to contain a literature review as one of its parts. In a research paper, you use the literature as a foundation and as support for a new insight that you contribute. The focus of a literature review, however, is to summarize and synthesize the arguments and ideas of others without adding new contributions.
Why do we write literature reviews?
Literature reviews provide you with a handy guide to a particular topic. If you have limited time to conduct research, literature reviews can give you an overview or act as a stepping stone. For professionals, they are useful reports that keep them up to date with what is current in the field. For scholars, the depth and breadth of the literature review emphasizes the credibility of the writer in his or her field. Literature reviews also provide a solid background for a research paper’s investigation. Comprehensive knowledge of the literature of the field is essential to most research papers.
Who writes these things, anyway?
Literature reviews are written occasionally in the humanities, but mostly in the sciences and social sciences; in experiment and lab reports, they constitute a section of the paper. Sometimes a literature review is written as a paper in itself.
Let’s get to it! What should I do before writing the literature review?
If your assignment is not very specific, seek clarification from your instructor:
- Roughly how many sources should you include?
- What types of sources (books, journal articles, websites)?
- Should you summarize, synthesize, or critique your sources by discussing a common theme or issue?
- Should you evaluate your sources?
- Should you provide subheadings and other background information, such as definitions and/or a history?
Look for other literature reviews in your area of interest or in the discipline and read them to get a sense of the types of themes you might want to look for in your own research or ways to organize your final review. You can simply put the word “review” in your search engine along with your other topic terms to find articles of this type on the Internet or in an electronic database. The bibliography or reference section of sources you’ve already read are also excellent entry points into your own research.
Narrow your topic
There are hundreds or even thousands of articles and books on most areas of study. The narrower your topic, the easier it will be to limit the number of sources you need to read in order to get a good survey of the material. Your instructor will probably not expect you to read everything that’s out there on the topic, but you’ll make your job easier if you first limit your scope.
Keep in mind that UNC Libraries have research guides and to databases relevant to many fields of study. You can reach out to the subject librarian for a consultation: https://library.unc.edu/support/consultations/ .
And don’t forget to tap into your professor’s (or other professors’) knowledge in the field. Ask your professor questions such as: “If you had to read only one book from the 90’s on topic X, what would it be?” Questions such as this help you to find and determine quickly the most seminal pieces in the field.
Consider whether your sources are current
Some disciplines require that you use information that is as current as possible. In the sciences, for instance, treatments for medical problems are constantly changing according to the latest studies. Information even two years old could be obsolete. However, if you are writing a review in the humanities, history, or social sciences, a survey of the history of the literature may be what is needed, because what is important is how perspectives have changed through the years or within a certain time period. Try sorting through some other current bibliographies or literature reviews in the field to get a sense of what your discipline expects. You can also use this method to consider what is currently of interest to scholars in this field and what is not.
Strategies for writing the literature review
Find a focus.
A literature review, like a term paper, is usually organized around ideas, not the sources themselves as an annotated bibliography would be organized. This means that you will not just simply list your sources and go into detail about each one of them, one at a time. No. As you read widely but selectively in your topic area, consider instead what themes or issues connect your sources together. Do they present one or different solutions? Is there an aspect of the field that is missing? How well do they present the material and do they portray it according to an appropriate theory? Do they reveal a trend in the field? A raging debate? Pick one of these themes to focus the organization of your review.
Convey it to your reader
A literature review may not have a traditional thesis statement (one that makes an argument), but you do need to tell readers what to expect. Try writing a simple statement that lets the reader know what is your main organizing principle. Here are a couple of examples:
The current trend in treatment for congestive heart failure combines surgery and medicine. More and more cultural studies scholars are accepting popular media as a subject worthy of academic consideration.
You’ve got a focus, and you’ve stated it clearly and directly. Now what is the most effective way of presenting the information? What are the most important topics, subtopics, etc., that your review needs to include? And in what order should you present them? Develop an organization for your review at both a global and local level:
First, cover the basic categories
Just like most academic papers, literature reviews also must contain at least three basic elements: an introduction or background information section; the body of the review containing the discussion of sources; and, finally, a conclusion and/or recommendations section to end the paper. The following provides a brief description of the content of each:
- Introduction: Gives a quick idea of the topic of the literature review, such as the central theme or organizational pattern.
- Body: Contains your discussion of sources and is organized either chronologically, thematically, or methodologically (see below for more information on each).
- Conclusions/Recommendations: Discuss what you have drawn from reviewing literature so far. Where might the discussion proceed?
Organizing the body
Once you have the basic categories in place, then you must consider how you will present the sources themselves within the body of your paper. Create an organizational method to focus this section even further.
To help you come up with an overall organizational framework for your review, consider the following scenario:
You’ve decided to focus your literature review on materials dealing with sperm whales. This is because you’ve just finished reading Moby Dick, and you wonder if that whale’s portrayal is really real. You start with some articles about the physiology of sperm whales in biology journals written in the 1980’s. But these articles refer to some British biological studies performed on whales in the early 18th century. So you check those out. Then you look up a book written in 1968 with information on how sperm whales have been portrayed in other forms of art, such as in Alaskan poetry, in French painting, or on whale bone, as the whale hunters in the late 19th century used to do. This makes you wonder about American whaling methods during the time portrayed in Moby Dick, so you find some academic articles published in the last five years on how accurately Herman Melville portrayed the whaling scene in his novel.
Now consider some typical ways of organizing the sources into a review:
- Chronological: If your review follows the chronological method, you could write about the materials above according to when they were published. For instance, first you would talk about the British biological studies of the 18th century, then about Moby Dick, published in 1851, then the book on sperm whales in other art (1968), and finally the biology articles (1980s) and the recent articles on American whaling of the 19th century. But there is relatively no continuity among subjects here. And notice that even though the sources on sperm whales in other art and on American whaling are written recently, they are about other subjects/objects that were created much earlier. Thus, the review loses its chronological focus.
- By publication: Order your sources by publication chronology, then, only if the order demonstrates a more important trend. For instance, you could order a review of literature on biological studies of sperm whales if the progression revealed a change in dissection practices of the researchers who wrote and/or conducted the studies.
- By trend: A better way to organize the above sources chronologically is to examine the sources under another trend, such as the history of whaling. Then your review would have subsections according to eras within this period. For instance, the review might examine whaling from pre-1600-1699, 1700-1799, and 1800-1899. Under this method, you would combine the recent studies on American whaling in the 19th century with Moby Dick itself in the 1800-1899 category, even though the authors wrote a century apart.
- Thematic: Thematic reviews of literature are organized around a topic or issue, rather than the progression of time. However, progression of time may still be an important factor in a thematic review. For instance, the sperm whale review could focus on the development of the harpoon for whale hunting. While the study focuses on one topic, harpoon technology, it will still be organized chronologically. The only difference here between a “chronological” and a “thematic” approach is what is emphasized the most: the development of the harpoon or the harpoon technology.But more authentic thematic reviews tend to break away from chronological order. For instance, a thematic review of material on sperm whales might examine how they are portrayed as “evil” in cultural documents. The subsections might include how they are personified, how their proportions are exaggerated, and their behaviors misunderstood. A review organized in this manner would shift between time periods within each section according to the point made.
- Methodological: A methodological approach differs from the two above in that the focusing factor usually does not have to do with the content of the material. Instead, it focuses on the “methods” of the researcher or writer. For the sperm whale project, one methodological approach would be to look at cultural differences between the portrayal of whales in American, British, and French art work. Or the review might focus on the economic impact of whaling on a community. A methodological scope will influence either the types of documents in the review or the way in which these documents are discussed. Once you’ve decided on the organizational method for the body of the review, the sections you need to include in the paper should be easy to figure out. They should arise out of your organizational strategy. In other words, a chronological review would have subsections for each vital time period. A thematic review would have subtopics based upon factors that relate to the theme or issue.
Sometimes, though, you might need to add additional sections that are necessary for your study, but do not fit in the organizational strategy of the body. What other sections you include in the body is up to you. Put in only what is necessary. Here are a few other sections you might want to consider:
- Current Situation: Information necessary to understand the topic or focus of the literature review.
- History: The chronological progression of the field, the literature, or an idea that is necessary to understand the literature review, if the body of the literature review is not already a chronology.
- Methods and/or Standards: The criteria you used to select the sources in your literature review or the way in which you present your information. For instance, you might explain that your review includes only peer-reviewed articles and journals.
Questions for Further Research: What questions about the field has the review sparked? How will you further your research as a result of the review?
Once you’ve settled on a general pattern of organization, you’re ready to write each section. There are a few guidelines you should follow during the writing stage as well. Here is a sample paragraph from a literature review about sexism and language to illuminate the following discussion:
However, other studies have shown that even gender-neutral antecedents are more likely to produce masculine images than feminine ones (Gastil, 1990). Hamilton (1988) asked students to complete sentences that required them to fill in pronouns that agreed with gender-neutral antecedents such as “writer,” “pedestrian,” and “persons.” The students were asked to describe any image they had when writing the sentence. Hamilton found that people imagined 3.3 men to each woman in the masculine “generic” condition and 1.5 men per woman in the unbiased condition. Thus, while ambient sexism accounted for some of the masculine bias, sexist language amplified the effect. (Source: Erika Falk and Jordan Mills, “Why Sexist Language Affects Persuasion: The Role of Homophily, Intended Audience, and Offense,” Women and Language19:2).
In the example above, the writers refer to several other sources when making their point. A literature review in this sense is just like any other academic research paper. Your interpretation of the available sources must be backed up with evidence to show that what you are saying is valid.
Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. The type of information you choose to mention should relate directly to the review’s focus, whether it is thematic, methodological, or chronological.
Use quotes sparingly
Falk and Mills do not use any direct quotes. That is because the survey nature of the literature review does not allow for in-depth discussion or detailed quotes from the text. Some short quotes here and there are okay, though, if you want to emphasize a point, or if what the author said just cannot be rewritten in your own words. Notice that Falk and Mills do quote certain terms that were coined by the author, not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study. But if you find yourself wanting to put in more quotes, check with your instructor.
Summarize and synthesize
Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each paragraph as well as throughout the review. The authors here recapitulate important features of Hamilton’s study, but then synthesize it by rephrasing the study’s significance and relating it to their own work.
Keep your own voice
While the literature review presents others’ ideas, your voice (the writer’s) should remain front and center. Notice that Falk and Mills weave references to other sources into their own text, but they still maintain their own voice by starting and ending the paragraph with their own ideas and their own words. The sources support what Falk and Mills are saying.
Use caution when paraphrasing
When paraphrasing a source that is not your own, be sure to represent the author’s information or opinions accurately and in your own words. In the preceding example, Falk and Mills either directly refer in the text to the author of their source, such as Hamilton, or they provide ample notation in the text when the ideas they are mentioning are not their own, for example, Gastil’s. For more information, please see our handout on plagiarism .
Revise, revise, revise
Draft in hand? Now you’re ready to revise. Spending a lot of time revising is a wise idea, because your main objective is to present the material, not the argument. So check over your review again to make sure it follows the assignment and/or your outline. Then, just as you would for most other academic forms of writing, rewrite or rework the language of your review so that you’ve presented your information in the most concise manner possible. Be sure to use terminology familiar to your audience; get rid of unnecessary jargon or slang. Finally, double check that you’ve documented your sources and formatted the review appropriately for your discipline. For tips on the revising and editing process, see our handout on revising drafts .
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.
Jones, Robert, Patrick Bizzaro, and Cynthia Selfe. 1997. The Harcourt Brace Guide to Writing in the Disciplines . New York: Harcourt Brace.
Lamb, Sandra E. 1998. How to Write It: A Complete Guide to Everything You’ll Ever Write . Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.
Rosen, Leonard J., and Laurence Behrens. 2003. The Allyn & Bacon Handbook , 5th ed. New York: Longman.
Troyka, Lynn Quittman, and Doug Hesse. 2016. Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers , 11th ed. London: Pearson.
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Literary sources are the information sources reviewed to create a report or a writing assignment. Sources include information in print, electronic and visual formats such as books. Creating a report often requires the writer to do research ...
An authoritative source is one that has been written by an expert who is recognized in his or her field of expertise; some examples include peer-viewed journal articles, government websites, public records and books by reputable, well-known...
The two types of literature are written and oral. Written literature includes novels and poetry. It also has subsections of prose, fiction, myths, novels and short stories. Oral literature includes folklore, ballads, myths and fables.
Examples of primary sources: Theses, dissertations, scholarly journal articles (research based), some government reports, symposia and conference proceedings
Primary Sources ; Magazine or newspaper articles ; (literature, poetry, fiction books, film, works of art or design, performances) ; Autobiographies
Research summaries reported in textbooks, magazines, and newspapers are considered secondary sources. They typically provide global descriptions
5.3 Acceptable sources for literature reviews · Peer reviewed journal articles (papers) · Edited academic books · Articles in professional journals · Statistical
Diaries, Journal articles ; Audio recordings, Textbooks ; Transcripts, Dictionaries and encyclopaedias ; Original manuscripts, Biographies.
Literature review sources · Books. Textbooks remain as the most important source to find models and theories related to the research area. · Magazines.
Primary Literature. Original research results in journals, dissertations, conference proceedings, correspondence ; Secondary Literature. Review
Types of sources for a review... · Primary source: Usually a report by the original researchers of a study (unfiltered sources) · Secondary source
Although your own literature review will focus on primary, peer-reviewed resources, it will begin by first grounding yourself in background subject information
Here is an overview of general, secondary, and primary sources that you use to write a literature review for your research project or thesis
A literature review can be just a simple summary of the sources, but it usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis.