Skip to main content

HIST 1122 - Hensley (Paulding) - Spring 2018: Getting Started

One Perfect Source?

One thing to keep in mind when you are doing research on your topic is that there is NO SUCH THING as a single perfect source that you will be able to cite to support your thesis. Researching and writing is a process of learning about your topic, thinking critically about what you've learned, and supporting your thesis through referencing a variety of sources. 

Scholarly Articles

Journals, magazines, and newspapers can be divided into four basic categories (ranked here from most reliable to least reliable):

1. Scholarly

2. General Interest / Substantive News

3. Popular

4. Sensational  (Think about it - if you were preparing a presentation on political parties, would you trust The Journal of Political Science or the local supermarket tabloid with aliens from Mars on the cover? That's the difference between scholarly and sensational!)

SCHOLARLY journals require articles to be reviewed by other experts or scholars in the same field (thus "peer reviewed") who must agree that the article in question meets the standards of that profession.  This ensures that the content of the article is as valid and reliable as possible.

So how do you tell if a journal is scholarly? 

  • Look for an abstract.
  • Look for complete citations (Bibliography or Works Cited list.)
  • Check to see if the author has a degree in the subject.
  • Check the "Peer Reviewed" box in GALILEO! Don't forget the library databases allow you to modify your searches to include only those materials that are peer reviewed!

(More information on the four basic categories can be found here!)

A Source is a Source

Primary sources are items from the time or source be studied, they have not been filtered through interpretation or evaluation. These are original materials on which other research is based.  

Some types of primary sources include:

  • Diaries
  • Newsreels
  • Interviews
  • Letters
  • Newspaper Articles
  • Speeches 

Secondary sources are interpretations or evaluations of primary sources. Generally they are accounts written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. They are commentary on and discussion of evidence, not evidence (primary) themselves. 

Art and Architecture Painting by Monet Article critiquing art piece
Chemistry/Life Sciences Einstein's diary Biography on Einstein's life
Engineering/Physical Sciences Patent NTIS database
Humanities Letters by Martin Luther King Web site on King's writings
Social Sciences Notes taken by clinical psychologist Magazine article about the psychological condition
Performing Arts Movie filmed in 1942 Biography of the director
Floyd Library - 706.295.6318 | Heritage Hall - 706.295.6321 | Cartersville Library - 678.872.8400 | Marietta - 678.915.5010 | Paulding Library - 678.946.1007 | Douglasville Library - 678.872.4237
©2015 Georgia Highlands College |