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ENC 1101 - Prof. Russell Aaronson : Sources

What is a source?

A source is an object in any format containing information, which a researcher uses to support an idea or argument.

What is a primary source?

A primary source is original documentation or evidence of a person or event. Primary sources are created by the person or within the same time period of the event.

Examples: Newspaper article, Interview, Original research

What is a secondary source?

Secondary sources analyze or interpret original documentation related to a person or event.

Examples: Literary Criticism, Book Review, Magazine article

Magazines, Newspapers, Trade Journals & Academic Journals




Magazines are written for the general public. They feature lots of pictures and advertisements. The authors of the articles are often staff writers. The content includes information on current events, entertainment and special features.


Information in newspapers is targeted toward the general public. Newspapers usually feature black and white print and photographs. The articles are written by journalists and staff writers. The articles discuss news events and special features.

Trade Journal

Trade journals contain information for professionals within a specific industry. Usually staff writers or industry professionals write the articles. They feature  color photographs and industry specific advertisements. The articles discuss news and special features related to a specific industry.

Academic Journal

Researchers and scholars are the main audience for academic journals. They do not feature pictures or advertisements. Research articles make-up the content. They are written by researchers/scholars of a particular profession.

Reference Books, Circulating Books & eBooks



Reference Books

A book organized in a specific manner which allows users to easily access information. In print format, these books can only be used in the library. In electronic format, they can be accessed remotely.  Examples: Encyclopedia, Atlas

Circulating Books

A print book that can be checked-out


An electronic book that can be retrieved in the library or remotely