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Types of Sources

Selecting Sources

For an overview of your topic use tertiary sources:

These types of sources should be used only for background information and are not usually included in the bibliography of a college-level research paper


Some textbooks

Subject-specific reference sources

General encyclopedias


Open websites

For more information about your topic use secondary sources:

Non-fiction books and other monographs, some textbooks, some scholarly journal articles, literary criticisms, statistical summaries, trade publications, newspapers, popular magazines, and documentaries

For details about specific points in your outline use primary sources:

Some scholarly journal articles, in-depth scholarly book chapters, blogs, photographs, and raw statistics


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