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Literature Reviews: Source Types

Learn how to organize and compose a literature review

Scholarly and Peer Reviewed?

Scholarly articles have unique characteristics that distinguish them from popular magazine articles. Some of these characteristics include:

  • Length - scholarly articles are longer, usually over 10 pages. This is because they discuss previous research, present new research or make new arguments, and draw conclusions.
  • Authors - scholarly articles are often written by professors or professionals in a field.
  • Language - scholarly articles use technical language, or jargon, relevant to the field.
  • References - readers will always find a thorough bibiliography at the end of a scholarly article.

What is Peer Review?

This short video from North Carolina State University explains the peer review process and its purpose.

Identifying Sources for Your Research

Why is this important?

Each of the sources below may be useful when conducting your research of the literature, but not all of them will be equally valid for use in the writing of your literature review. Furthermore, it is essential to know what source type you are working with in order to create a proper citation for your reference list.

Below are some of the identifying features and things to consider when using various source types. 

 

Source

Click the links below for examples

Author(s)    Frequency     Length   References    Audience    Advertising How Can I Use This Source?

Books

 

May be written by researchers, professionals, or the general public. Published once, possibly revised in later editions. Often several hundred pages. May or may not contain a thorough bibliography. Varies widely. No advertising. Explore reference list for useful scholarly articles.

Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Journal

 

Written by experts and specialists in the field. Often published quarterly or bi-annually. Each article is usually more than 10 pages. There will always be a thorough bibiliography. Written in the language of the field for scholarly readers. No
advertising.
These articles provide you with original, empirical research. Study the literature review section and reference list for other relevant articles.

Professional/Trade Journal

 

Written by professionals and practitioners in the field.  Often published weekly or monthly. Each article is usually fewer than 10 pages. There may be informal citations throughout the text, but often no formal bibliography. Written for people working in a specific field

Some

advertising.

Locate original research mentioned in the text.

Working Papers/ Conference Proceedings

 

Written by experts and specialists in the field. Working papers are published as needed. Conference proceedings are often published yearly. Each article is usually more than 10 pages. There will always be a thorough bibliography. Written in the language of the field for scholarly readers. Authors are seeking feedback on their work before they submit their article for peer review. No advertising. These articles represent research in progress. Look for scholarly articles written by the same authors. 

Magazines and News Sources

Written by journalists. Often published daily, weekly, or monthly.  Varies widely. There may be informal citations throughout the text, but often no formal bibliography. Often written for the general public.

Some

advertising.

Locate original research mentioned in the text.

Corporate .com

Government .gov

sites

May be written by researchers, professionals, or the general public. Varies widely. Sometimes no publication date will be provided. Varies widely. May or may not include a bibliography. Often written for the general public.

May include

advertising.

Corporate websites may contain important background information and statistics

Blogs and Wikis

May be written by researchers, professionals, or the general public. Varies widely. Sometimes no publication date will be provided. Varies widely. May or may not include a bibliography. Often written for the general public. Some advertising. It is best to locate the original source of the information.

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