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Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE)

Summer 2024

Types of Sources

There are many types of sources you might encounter as you work on a research project. Here are a few definitions to help you sift through these source types.

Scholarly sources - these sources are typically published in academic journals and go through a peer review process. Scholarly sources are often written by experts in a field and are reviewed by other experts. You can find these articles using Emory Library databases, and you might be required to use these types of articles for various research projects.

Popular sources - these are sources that are not considered scholarly. Popular sources can run the gamut from celebrity gossip magazines to personal blogs to Pulitzer prize winning magazines to newspapers. Popular sources can vary wildly in quality, in type, in content, and in the type of review process they undergo. Most of what you see via a Google search are popular sources!

Trade publications - a trade publication is often written by an expert in a certain industry. These provide news, trends, opinions, etc. rather than peer-reviewed research.

Evaluate Your Sources

As you find sources and materials, keep in mind that their quality can vary. Learning how to evaluate information can not only help you succeed with your research assignment; it's also a critical life skill! Below are some tips you can use to help you become a savvy consumer and user of information.

Read laterally and get your bearings - Follow links, check out claims, see what other says, and see what you can find online. Don't just read the article straight through - lateral reading involves figuring out the context of the source and getting more background information on the article, who produced it, and what it is claiming. You can ask these questions to help you figure out more about your source.

  • What are you looking at? See if you can determine what kind of source or information you are seeing.
  • Who wrote this? See what you can find about the author. Check out their credentials, see what comes about them on Google. Are they qualified to talk about the topic?
  • Who published this? See what you can find out about the publisher. What is their reputation? What other types of articles and content do they publish? What do other say about them online?
  • Why was this written? Someone took the time to write and publish this information, so why did they? What might the goal be? Is the article trying to share information, or convince the reader to do something?
  • Is this useful for your research project? An article might be credible and well-written, but it might not be what you need for your project. Make sure this information will be helpful for your project and your research needs.