Often when students are doing research projects we require different types of sources. Students can struggle with knowing how to differentiate these types of sources, or struggle when to use one type of source over another. That’s where Barb and I come to help!
When talking about sources we often use the terms academic and non-academic sources, but what do these terms mean? Academic usually refers to sources students will find in databases, or in the nonfiction section of the library. These sources are well-researched and often peer-reviewed. While non-academic sources commonly refer to websites, newspapers, or social media. While these sources can be useful sources of information, they need further vetting than academic sources. The infographic below from Portland Community College is a fantastic breakdown of source types.
A great way to make sure students are finding the correct types of sources is to use our databases. When searching through a database there are often many different types of sources to choose from. Some databases like JSTOR only focus on academic sources that are peer reviewed, while others may include primary sources, newspaper articles, magazines, and sometimes multi-media sources. Students, when looking through these databases, still need to make sure they are using the correct type of source for their project! Their comprehensive advanced search features assist students with finding credible sources. If students are searching on Google for non-academic sources, we suggest students using trustworthy websites and evaluating their sources for credibility.
For more information on the different types of sources, and how to help students differentiate between them check out our Online Teaching and Learning LibGuide. Barb and I are also available to help create lessons, or instruct your students on source types. For more information on primary sources and source evaluation check out these links!
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