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Evaluating Resources: Select the Right Source

Introduction

Now that we've discussed how to identify various publications, review the boxes below with recommendations on when their use might be appropriate.

Please Note: The below are general guidelines. Please refer to your discussion, assignment, or capstone rubric for specific requirements.

Peer-reviewed journals

Coursework:

Required for many discussion posts & assignments.

Dissertation or Capstone Project:            

Make up a large percentage of the literature review.

Background Information (basic overview of topic):

  • Often assume prior understanding.

  • Not a good source for background information.

Trade publications

Coursework:     

May be appropriate, if allowed by the instructions.

Dissertation or Capstone Project:            

If relevant to the topic, may be included in the small percentage of non-peer-reviewed sources.

Background Information (basic overview of topic):

  • Their purpose is to inform the reader.
  • Great source of background information.

Popular magazines

Coursework:     

  • Good source for popular or current events.
  • May be appropriate, if allowed by the instructions.

Dissertation or Capstone Project:            

If it is important to highlight current events, may be appropriate to include in the small percentage of non-peer-reviewed sources.

Background Information (basic overview of topic):

  • Purpose is to entertain.
  • Should be checked for accuracy.

Scholarly books

Coursework:     

May be appropriate, if allowed by the instructions.

Dissertation or Capstone Project:            

  • Many theories were originally published in scholarly books.
  • Should make up part of your non-peer-reviewed sources

Background Information (basic overview of topic):

  • Have the space to go more in-depth on a topic.
  • Great source for background information.

Textbooks

Coursework:     

  • Purpose is to help you learn concepts.
  • Should refer to your textbook when appropriate.

Dissertation or Capstone Project:            

  • Generally, not appropriate.
  • Should cite primary sources instead.

Background Information (basic overview of topic):

Great source of background information.

Dissertations

Coursework:     

May be appropriate, if allowed by the instructions

Dissertation or Capstone Project:            

  • Looking at completed dissertations can be a good learning experience.
  • The bibliographies can be a great place to find relevant sources.
  • Depending on your program, may be appropriate to include in your literature review.

Background Information (basic overview of topic):

  • Generally assumes an understanding of the topic.
  • Not a great source of background information.

Encyclopedias & handbooks

Coursework:     

  • Most professors prefer that you not cite these.
  • May be appropriate, if allowed by the instructions.

Dissertation or Capstone Project:            

  • Some programs allow these to be used for scholarly definitions of terms.
  • Otherwise, they should not be used in your dissertation.

Background Information (basic overview of topic):

  • Give short, concise explanations that can help you better understand a topic.
  • Great source of background information.

Newspapers

Coursework:     

  • Good source for current and local events.
  • May be appropriate, if allowed by the instructions.

Dissertation or Capstone Project:            

If it is important to highlight current events or events from a specific location, may be appropriate to include in the small percentage of non-peer-reviewed sources.

Background Information (basic overview of topic):

  • Purpose is to inform and entertain.
  • Should be checked for accuracy.

Conference proceedings

Coursework:     

May be appropriate, if allowed by the instructions.

Dissertation or Capstone Project:            

May be appropriate, depending on your area of study.

Background Information (basic overview of topic):

  • Generally assume a degree of familiarity with a topic.
  • Not a great source for background information.