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English (Hornbuckle): Source Types

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

A primary source is one of original, first-hand information. In english/literature, a primary work will be one written by the author you are researching. For instance, if you are researching Jane Austen, then Pride and Prejudice would be a primary source. Other primary sources may include interviews, diaries, photographs, and newspaper articles. Secondary sources are removed in time from the original author/subject (i.e. they are second-hand sources of information).  A criticism, interpretation, or analysis of Pride and Prejudice would be considered a secondary source.

Scholarly Sources

What is a scholarly source? A scholarly source may also be referred to as a peer-reviewed source. It is written by experts, for experts. They are reviewed by several experts before publishing. The opposite of a scholarly source is a popular source. It is something that is written using language the general public can understand. Examples of popular sources include magazines and news websites.

So how do you find a scholarly source? Most of our databases have the option of limiting your results to peer-reviewed sources. Make sure the box is checked to limit your results.