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UGS 303 - Modernity, Anxiety and the Art of the Uncanny - Richmond-Garza

How to Choose the Right Sources

Evaluate Sources for Scholarly Writing

Your assignment requires 10 sources appropriate for scholarly writing, 5 from library databases, and 5 you could find with a Google search.  In order to find sources appropriate for scholarly writing, you want to ensure the authors have expertise to write on a topic.  

How do I know if someone has expertise on a topic?

1. Google them to find out more about them.  Look at their education - do they have PhD in the subject, for example?  Look at their job - are they a professor in the subject, a librarian/archivist/curator who specializes in the subject or author/artist, a professional writer, for example?

2. Look them up in a library database or GoogleScholar to see what else they've written about the topic.  Experts often specialize and you may see numerous publications about the same theme, subject or artist/author.

Which types of sources found in the library databases are appropriate for scholarly writing?

  • Encyclopedias, such as those found in Gale Virtual Reference Library -  these are not scholarly sources and should not be cited in your Works Cited list.  They can be useful to start your research (see Start your Research to see how to use these to help you find appropriate sources).
  • Peer-reviewed journal articles - these are scholarly sources.   

Which types of sources found with a Google search are appropriate for scholarly writing?

  • Wikipedia - this is not a scholarly source.  See "Encylopedias" above for information about how to best use Wikipedia.
  • Papers and websites written by students for a class assignment - these are not scholarly sources.  Students are just beginning to learn about subjects and are not considered experts.
  • Websites from museums, libraries, archives, scholarly societies and colleges/universities - these may be considered appropriate for scholarly research.  Look at the background and expertise of the person who wrote it.  (Example: https://www.tcd.ie/trinitywriters/writers/bram-stoker/ - Googling the authors show that he is a professor with a specialty in Victorian British and Irish literature)
  • Blog posts - these may be considered appropriate for scholarly research.  Look at the background and expertise of the person who wrote it (Example: https://blog.oup.com/2012/04/bram-stoker-death-centenary-dracula/ - the author is a professor of literature with a specialization in Gothic literature and this blog is from the Oxford University Press, an academic publisher)
  • Fan pages - these are not considered appropriate for scholarly research

 

Primary versus Secondary

You need to use a mix of primary and secondary sources in your research paper.

Primary sources are original materials.  The works themselves (a novel, play, film, painting, etc.) are primary sources.  For example, if you are writing about gender in Dracula, the novel Dracula is the primary source.

Secondary sources are sources that analyze or interpret the primary sources.  Essays and academic journal articles are secondary sources.  For example, if you are writing about gender in Dracula, a scholarly journal article such as “Vampiric Seduction and Vicissitudes of Masculine Identity in Bram Stoker's ‘Dracula’” from the journal Victorian Literature and Culture  is a secondary source.

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