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.
Journals, magazines, and newspapers can be divided into four basic categories (ranked here from most reliable to least reliable):
2. General Interest / Substantive News
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?
(More information on the four basic categories can be found here!)
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:
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|