An anecdotal source is one in which someone is writing or talking about their personal experience. The best way to treat these sources is to believe and verify. For example: If a person writes a newspaper article about how their treatment by the nursing staff during their recent stay in the hospital exacerbated their depression, it is important to recognize the validity of their experience. We can assume that their feelings of depression are genuine. However we can also research the hospital in question to see if this particular case is an outlier or if there have been numerous other complaints against the nursing staff. We can also look into whether or not the hospital in question offers adequate training to its staff.
An opinion piece is exactly what it sounds like: a piece of writing (or video) that expresses a person's or organization's opinion. It is important to research the person and/or organization in question to place the opinion in context. Of course, the opinion of an expert is always useful when they are talking about their field. However, the opinion of an "Average Joe" can also be useful in that it can represent the thoughts of those who haven't been fully educated in a subject or field. Which type of opinion is most valuable to your research will depend on your topic.
Often before a researcher publishes a scholarly article, they will first publish a research report in a journal or trade publication. These reports represent the cutting edge of current research; however it is important to note that they are not peer reviewed and do not count (usually) as scholarly articles.
Sometimes research can be complicated. It is most complicated when you need evidence of non-credible information. For example, a website that promotes conspiracy theories about 9/11 is not a good source for credible information, but if you are writing a paper about fringe communities on the internet, it might be a very good piece of evidence.
If you need to find and use non-credible information for a paper/project, we recommend that you reach out to a librarian. We are happy to work with you to find what you need!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.