Research Paper Material Sources

This study examined 68 Web sources selected by 19 second-language (L2) students while preparing to write research papers. Students submitted an annotated bibliography consisting of ten sources from print or electronic media. Each Web source was classified according to type (e.g., news or advocacy). Of the 68 sites, 29 were considered conventional, i.e., similar to materials housed in libraries (e.g., books and journal articles), and eight were “dead” links. The remaining 33 were rated unconventional, consisting of materials from interest groups, commercial enterprises, and informal academic materials. This paper presents an assessment of the 33 unconventional sites based on WATCH, a rating scale consisting of four broad criteria: author's reputation; the site's objectivity; its academic rigor; and the transparency of its publishing information (Stapleton, P., and Helms-Park, R. (in press). Evaluating Web sources in an EAP course: Introducing a multi-trait instrument for feedback and assessment. English for Specific Purposes). In addition, the paper analyzes seven unconventional sources to illustrate the need to focus on Website evaluation skills in academic contexts.

When searching for articles, it's important to know what type of source, or periodical in which the articles are published. This is beacuse each type has its own purpose, intent, audience, etc. This guide lists criteria to help you identify scholarly journals, trade journals, and magazines. It is the first step in critically evaluating your source of information. Determining what makes a journal scholarly is not a clear-cut process, but there are many indicators which can help you.

Scholarly Journal

  • Reports original research or experimentation
  • Articles written by an expert in the field for other experts in the field
  • Articles use specialized jargon of the discipline
  • Articles undergo peer review process before acceptance for publication in order to assure creative content
  • Authors of articles always cite their sources in the form of footnotes or bibliographies


    Journal of Asian Studies


    Social Research

    A note about "peer review." Peer review insures that the research reported in a journal's article is sound and of high quality. Sometimes the term "refereed" is used instead of peer review.

Trade Journal

  • Discusses practical information in industry
  • Contains news, product information, advertising, and trade articles
  • Contains information on current trends in technology
  • Articles usually written by experts in the field for other experts in the field
  • Articles use specialized jargon of the discipline
  • Useful to people in the trade field and to people seeking orientation to a vocation


    Advertising Age

    Independent Banker

    People Management

General Interest Magazines

  • Provides information in a general manner to a broad audience
  • Articles generally written by a member of the editorial staff or a freelance writer
  • Language of articles geared to any educated audience, no subject expertise assumed
  • Articles are often heavily illustrated, generally with photographs
  • No peer review process
  • Sources are sometimes cited, but more often there are no footnotes or bibliography



    Popular Science

    Psychology Today

Popular Magazine

  • Articles are short and written in simple language with little depth to the content of these articles
  • The purpose is generally to entertain, not necessarily inform
  • Information published in popular magazines is often second-or third-hand
  • The original source of information contained in articles is obscure
  • Articles are written by staff members or freelance writers



    Rolling Stone

    Working Woman

How do you find scholarly journals?

The McQuade Library has many online periodical databases which contain scholarly journal articles. Databases such as EBSCOhost and INFOTRAC allow you to limit your search to peer reviewed or refereed journals.

If you have found an article and are not sure if it is scholarly or not you can find out by consulting the following books located in the Reference Room:

LaGuardia, Cheryl, Magazines for Libraries, 12th ed., New Providence, NJ: R.R. Bowker. (Ref Z 6941 .K2 2003)

Ulrich's International Periodicals Directory, New York: Bowker, 2003. (Ref Z 6941 .U5 2003)

If you need assistance or require further information please ask a librarian.

The information contained in this brochure was adapted from Working with Faculty to Design Undergraduate Information Literacy Programs: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians by Rosemary Young, New York: Neal Schuman, 1999. (Updated 01/07/04)

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