Your use of sources is a means of supporting the argument you make in your research paper. The sources you reference need to be credible and authoritative. How do you know that your sources are of value? Ask yourself the following questions:
Authority: What credentials are listed for the author? Where was the source published?
Objectivity (or Tone): What is the purpose of the website?
Currency: Is the piece timely and appropriate for its field?
Audience: For whom is the source written?
What is a Periodical? A periodical is any source that is published at regular intervals, such as daily, weekly, monthly, etc. They can be journals, magazines, newspapers, etc. Periodicals can be popular or scholarly in nature.
What is a Scholarly Periodical? It is an academic journal; a published work of a particular discipline or subject written by a scholar or person of expertise. Used for teaching, continual learning, and professional development. Generally called a journal.
What is a Popular Periodical? Sports, Hobbies, Lifestyle, etc. Appealing to or intended for the general public; liked by many people. Generally called a magazine.
Periodicals can also be located on databases and the web: these criteria may be applied to the online version of print periodicals, web-based electronic periodicals as well as the traditional print magazines and journals.
NOTE: As you read through the following criteria for journals and magazines, realize that none of the differential characteristics between journals and magazines can ever be totally clear cut.
Examples of Specialized Journals
Examples of Popular Magazines
JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association
While using internet searches, such as Google, seem easier, it actually can make finding quality resources a lot harder.
Search engines are designed to produce as many results as possible, but often those results are irrelevant or from unreliable, irrelevant, or inaccessible sources. This means that you--the researcher-- will have to determine if each individual source is helpful and authoritative and then determine if and how you can access it. Search engines like Google are best when used primarily for defining terms and gaining basic knowledge of your topic before beginning to research.
Library Databases do a lot of the source evaluation for you. The only resources they contain have already been identified as reliable and authoritative, and the library pays for access, so you will always be able to get to what you need. You may not get as many results, but the quality of information you find will make your whole research project much easier.
More information on Google vs. Databases
From Yale University Library: The Web vs. Library Databases--A Comparison
Primary sources are first-hand descriptions of events. They are produced by people who were at the event or lived at that time.
Some primary sources are:
Secondary sources are descriptions, commentaries, interpretations, and evaluations of primary sources. Basically, if something is talking about a primary source, it is a secondary source.
For more information:
Borough of Manhattan Community College: Primary vs. Secondary Sources
Santiago Canyon College: Identifying Primary and Secondary Resources