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Jessie Ball duPont Library

Research Writing

A beginner's guide to creating a research strategy for all of your papers.

What type of information do you need?

Try the BEAM research model for determining types of resources: Background information, Examples and Evidence, Argument support, and Methodological framework.

 

Library Research

Peer Reviewed Sources

Peer reviewed sources are those that have been vetted by scholars in a given field. For example, before a peer reviewed, or refereed, journal will publish an article, it is first sent to a handful of scholars in that field to conduct a blind review. They will often return the article with suggestions for improvement before recommending that the journal publish the article. This is considerably different than popular magazines and other sources that do not employ such rigorous publishing standards. The result is a higher level of scholarship than might otherwise be published.

Many of our journal databases offer the ability to limit to peer reviewed sources. You may wish to take advantage of this feature to pull out some of the best scholarship that matches your search.


For more information about evaluating sources
 to find out if they are peer-reviewed, please see Is It Peer-Reviewed?which is maintained by Karen Lamson of MCPHS University. 

How to Evaluate Print Resources

Primary Sources

Do you need primary sources?

While many projects and papers only require secondary sources (research articles and books which evaluate information secondhand), often you need some information from the "horse's mouth" which is a primary source or firsthand account. Do you know what type of information you need?

What are primary sources?

Original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories. May include letters, diaries, manuscripts, journals, speeches, newspapers, interviews, memoirs, government documents, photographs, audio recordings, film or video recordings, research data, and objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, and tools.

Where do I find primary sources?

There are multiple primary source databases available through duPont Library. If you are more interested in Sewanee-specific primary sources, then you'll want to be sure to visit our University Archives & Special Collections.

What Are Primary Resources?

Original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories. May include letters, diaries, manuscripts, journals, speeches, newspapers, interviews, memoirs, government documents, photographs, audio recordings, film or video recordings, research data, and objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, and tools.

Types of Primary Resources

This is a list of the most common types of primary resources in history.  When searching for sources, you might watch for these terms to help you figures out if you have found a primary resource.  You might also use these terms in your searches to help focus on a particular type of source or narrow down a large list of results.

  • advertisements
  • autobiography/autobiographies
  • correspondence
  • description and travel
  • diary/diaries
  • documents
  • early works to 1800
  • interview/interviews
  • journal
  • letters
  • pamphlets
  • personal narratives
  • trials
  • sources
  • speeches                      

Effective Reading Strategies

Academic research require reading some very difficult and lengthy documents. These documents are often written in highly technical language. How do you read these works strategically, effectively, and efficiently? Why, with a method, of course! Take a look at this wonderful resource page put together at Dartmouth University concerning the various methods of effective academic reading.