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E 314V / AFR 315: African American Literature & Culture, Annie Bares

Types of Sources

Types of Secondary Sources


Scholarly books are long publications of research, often published by university presses. They are released all at once (unlike periodicals, such as journals and newspapers), though some will be re-published in updated editions. Scholarly books often have include a Notes section, a Works Cited/Bibliography, and an Index.

Some books are anthologies, which are edited collections of essays/chapters that are written by different authors. Scholarly anthologies are often thematic, covering a specific sub-field of a discipline. 

Book Chapters

Book chapters are sections of a book. In the case of scholarly books, pay attention for chapters in anthologies (collections of essays written by different authors). The citations for book chapters in anthologies often look like citations for journal articles. 

Journal Articles

Journal articles are shorter pieces of scholarship and are published in peer-reviewed journals. Journals are released in regular intervals, such as monthly, quarterly, or annually. Peer review refers to the journals' vetting process. Each article is reviewed by other experts and scholars for quality and accuracy. 

Book Reviews

A book reviews is a type of article that analyzes and critiques a recently published book. Book reviews can be found in peer-reviewed journals, as well as mainstream publications such as newspapers and magazines. See this guide for information on book reviews. 

Newspaper/Magazine Articles

Newspapers and magazines are publications with short articles intended for general/non-scholarly audiences, often written by journalists or independent writers. 

Dissertations & Theses

Dissertations and theses are long works of scholarship produced by graduate students, intended as the culmination of their scholarly work in graduate school. Many scholars go on to publish their dissertations as books after graduation. 


You may encounter other kinds of sources as you search the library databases. If you have questions about sources, how to use them, and how to cite them, ask a librarian for help!

Book Chapters Vs. Journal Articles Vs. Book Reviews

When you're searching for sources, you may find that citations for book chapters, scholarly journal articles, and book reviews look similar to each other. To help you tell them apart, note the unique pieces of information in the citation examples below. 

Book Chapters 

Citations for books chapters will have:

  • Name of the author of the chapter
  • Title of the chapter 
  • Book title
  • Book editor's name

Journal Articles

Citations for journal articles will have:

  • Name of the author of the article
  • Title of the article
  • Title of the journal

Book Reviews

Citations for book reviews will have:

  • Name of the author of the review
  • Title of the review
  • Journal title

Citations for book reviews do NOT include:

  • The title and author of the book that is being reviewed – you will need to read the review to see the name of the book. Often, the book being reviewed is a better source for your assignments than the review. To find the original book, use the library catalog

What is a Primary Source?

Primary sources are produced by participants or direct observers of an issue, event or time period. These sources may be recorded during the event or later on, by a participant reflecting upon the event. In some cases, it will be difficult to obtain the original source, so you may have to rely on copies (photocopies, microfilm, digital copies). Copies or transcriptions of a primary source still count as a primary source.  

Some examples of primary sources include:

  • Newspapers
  • Speeches
  • Government documents
  • Legal documents
  • Public opinion polls
  • Personal materials, including letters, diaries, interviews, memoirs, autobiographies, and oral histories
  • Images
  • Works of art (novels, plays, paintings, etc.)

A Note on Newspapers

Newspapers and magazines can be used as primary sources or as secondary sources, depending on the context and your research topic. 

For example, if you were researching an album by Billie Holiday, a newspaper article about the album or an album review from the 1940s would be primary sources. A newspaper article published in 2015 looking back at Holiday's career and continued influence would be a secondary source. 

If you are unsure, ask a librarian for help using our chat service!

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