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Shapiro Library

GLS 470 - Writing the Research Paper

This guide will help you identify and locate the resources (books, articles, etc.) that you will need for GLS 470. There is also information available on library services, tools, and other web resources to help you write your papers, and more.

Understanding Information


What is Information?

"1. knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance; 2. knowledge gained through study, communication, research, instruction, etc." (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/information)

Information includes both facts and opinions. We are constantly bombarded by information through television, the Internet, newspapers, billboards, conversations, etc. What is important is how we use information and how it becomes meaningful to us. 

What are Sources?

"1. someone or something that provides what is wanted or needed; 2. the cause of something (such as a problem) 3. a person, book, etc., that gives information" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/source)

In academic writing, sources are the materials from which the writer gathers information. It is important that you evaluate the sources of your information to be sure that each source is accurate, relevant, current, objective, and authoritative. For more information on evaluating resources, visit the Evaluating Resources tab on this guide.

Types of Sources


You may be asked to use a number of different kinds of sources including Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary.

Primary Sources

Primary Sources consist of original materials--a first-hand account of something. This information has not been filtered through interpretation. Examples of primary sources include:

  • an original journal or diary
  • a novel, poem or play
  • original notes from an experiment or original research
  • an original letter
  • a piece of artwork or furniture, musical score, or theatrical performance

Secondary Sources

Secondary Sources are written after something has happened and has the benefit of hindsight. This information includes interpretations and evaluations of primary information. Examples of secondary sources include:

  • a critique of a poem, play, or piece of literature
  • a history book based on primary historical sources
  • a scientific report based on experimental notes
  • commentaries and criticisms
  • biographical works

Tertiary Sources

Tertiary Sources are a distillation and collection of primary and secondary information. They usually include or are based on a range of secondary sources. Examples of tertiary sources include:

  • almanacs
  • fact books
  • encyclopedias
  • chronologies
  • guidebooks
  • manuals
  • directories