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SSI2-156: Justice, Arts, and Incarceration

What is Research?

Research is a creative, nonlinear process.  Experienced scholars will tell you that they rarely end up exactly where they thought they would when they first started out.  You'll need to give yourself the time to pursue ideas, reconsider ideas in light of new information, and then craft an original, researched argument.

To be successful in college-level research, you will need to make use of the resources and services of the library.  Here are a few reasons why:

  • Much scholarship and information is not available freely on the web.  Libraries pool their resources to purchase on your behalf access to quality information sources such as databases, journal collections, and reference resources.
  • Many materials are not available electronically, either because they have not been digitized yet or their original creators do not wish to make them available digitally.
  • Libraries cooperate with one another to lend you items that are not immediately available in your home library.
  • Librarians are experts in the organization of knowledge and can help you find treasures that perhaps you didn't even know existed!

Types of Sources

In academic research, it's important to be able to distinguish between different types of sources.  These differences often are contextual, meaning that the same source might fit in different categories depending on how you are using it, and within which academic discipline you're researching and writing.

For the purposes of your assignment in this course, you will be searching for at least 10 sources, eight of which must be scholarly sources or primary reports from newspapers or other documents.

Primary sources are the raw materials of scholarship. Scholars analyze primary sources in order to answer research questions. Examples of primary sources vary by discipline, but could include newspaper articles, interviews, or raw data and statistics.

Secondary sources report on or interpret primary sources.

Tertiary sources synthesize and present overviews of primary and secondary sources.

Scholarly sources present sophisticated, researched arguments using both primary and secondary sources and are written by experts.

Popular sources aim to inform or entertain and are intended for a general, non-specialized audience.  In academic writing, popular sources most often are analyzed as primary sources.