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ENGL 2111 and 2112 World Literature: Select Sources

Primary or Secondary?

A primary source  is a first-hand account of an event (diary), the actual item, work, or document (United States Constitution).

Primary sources can include
  • Interviews, diaries, letters, journals, speeches, autobiographies, and witness statements
  • Articles containing original research, data, or findings never before shared
  • Original hand-written manuscripts
  • Government documents and public records
  • Art, photographs, films, maps, fiction, and music
  • Newspaper and magazine clippings
  • Artifacts, buildings, furniture, and clothing

A secondary source is something written about the item (a critical essay discussing the imagery found in the short story, A Rose for Emily), a biography about Thomas Jefferson.

What is Peer Review?

Before an article may be published in a scholarly or academic journal, it must pass a process known as peer-review. Experts in that subject area review the article to ensure that the information included is accurate, written in a professional manner, and without bias.

To search for peer-reviewed articles in the GALILEO databases, look in the section of the page that reads "Limit results"  and then check the box next to Scholarly journals or Peer-Review.










Sources of Information



   Tips for recognizing the difference between scholarly journals, trade journals and popular magazines.

Magazines are used to find up-to-date information on current topics or popular culture.  The articles found in a magazine will be written for the general public who are not specialists in a subject area. 

   Newspapers are a good source for current news, political and social issues or popular culture.

  Journals are written by scholars in a professional or academic field.  Editors often review articles to determine whether they are acceptable for publishing.  Journals that use this process are called peer-reviewed or scholarly journals.

Trade and Industry Journals are written by practitioners or researchers in a field.  The articles often provide information on current trends in a field and may contain jargon or technical language specific to an industry.  

Books provide a great deal of information on a subject.  This can include historical information, summaries of the research or bibliographies that will point to other relevant sources about the topic.   How to Evaluate Books

Encyclopedias are a good source for background information about a topic.  There are general encyclopedias that cover many different subjects or specialized encyclopedias which may cover only one subject, such as the Encyclopedia of Social Work. 

Movies or Film Clips can also provide a great deal of information on a subject.  How to Evaluate a Movie or Film Clip.

The Internet may be used to find current information as well as specialized research.   Always check with your instructor first—some will limit or not allow Internet sources.