This library course guide provides links to recommended discovery tools for locating scholarly secondary sources. If you have questions, please ask your librarian!
In academic research, it's important to be able to distinguish between different types of sources. These differences often are contextual, meaning that a single source might fit in different categories depending on how you are using it and in what academic discipline you are writing.
Primary sources are the raw materials of scholarship.
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.
Here are some clues to look for in the catalog record when you are evaluating whether a book is scholarly or popular:
When you have the book in hand, and still aren't sure if it is scholarly, you might want to do a little more digging, perhaps with a couple of quick Google searches:
Literature Criticism Online is a full-text database that reprints scholarly articles around a particular theme, author, or work. If you want to peruse a variety of critical responses to a work, LCO offers an efficient way to do so. Note, however, that often only excerpts of scholarly secondary sources are provided, so you would need to search the full citation of the article or chapter in Primo to find the complete source.
Subject databases are focused on a single discipline or interdisciplinary field and index books, essays in books, and scholarly articles.
Primo is a library search tool for finding materials in the Collins Library and Summit libraries. You can search for books, selected articles and more in a single search box. Primo can be the better choice when you are seeking in-depth, book-length treatments of a topic.