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Types of Sources

Selecting Sources

Your topic and research question or thesis statement determines which sources are best. The source that answers your research question is the best source! 

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: handbooks, some textbooks, subject-specific reference sources, general encyclopedias, bibliographies, and 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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