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Information Sources

Information sources for research can be categorized broadly as: primary; secondary; and tertiary. Primary sources are created contemporaneously with an event. They are likely to present a single opinion or agenda (that of the observer) and include such things as: raw data collected by qualitative or quantitative research; correspondence, memos; diaries, journals, notebooks; interviews, speeches, personal narratives; realia; sound and visual recordings; and sometimes government documents and records, though not necessarily government publications.

Secondary sources provide: interpretation and analysis of event; often undergo an editing and review process; and frequently have a secondary bias (that of a reviewer, editor, sponsor). Most books and periodicals (journals, magazines) are secondary sources.

Tertiary sources are digested items, which includes: many ready reference materials (encyclopedias, compendia, directories, dictionaries, bibliographies); news digests; reports from news services; and numerous web based materials (faqs, site maps, advertising, news and events).

For more information on types of information sources, explore:

From Topic to Paper

Constructing a paper takes practice, patience and knowledge. For students, a paper often begins with an assignment. The assignment probably centres around a theme, an idea, or a topic which relates to a particular course. You may be expected to gather facts, problems, solutions, data and speculation. You might have to discuss several alternative perspectives, backed by the research you have done. You will probably have to organize the information you have gathered, along with your suggestions and conclusions, into a coherent paper and/or verbal presentation.

From Topic to Paper introduces you to:

Special Helps

Glossaries of Terms

Subjects, professions and disciplines have their own sets of special "jargon" and research and researchers are no exception. To help you figure out what librarians and your fellow researchers are talking about, please explore:

Web Basics

Understanding the technology and organization of internet-based data and information can go a long way in helping when constructing a search and understanding the returns.

Humour in Research

Search Strategies and Design

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This page created and maintained by Linda Hansen.
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Created: 2004/08/31 Last updated: 2013/09/02
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