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COM 217: Argumentation & Debate (Miller): Library Guides

Resources to assist you with research for upcoming debates.

CO 217 PowerPoint

Scholarly, Popular, Trade & Professional Sources--What's the Difference?

Professional or Trade Sources: Professional or trade literature resembles scholarly literature in that it is typically written by people working in the field, but may be written by staff writers with expertise. They might include advertisements, although most or all are profession- or trade-specific. Professional or trade information sources typically discuss practical application; cover news in the field; present brief reports on research, and/or offer opinions about trends, events, and industry/forecasts; and use language use language and jargon familiar to the profession. The do not often present original research, ideas, or theoretical discussions.

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary sources are materials that are eyewitness accounts or as close to the original source as possible.

Qualitative data:

  • What people say.
    They are usually Speeches, Interviews and Conversations, and they may be captured in Videos, Audio Recordings, or transcribed into text.
  • What people write. 
    These include Autobiographies, Memoirs, Personal Journals and Diaries, Letters, Emails, Blogs, Twitter Feeds and other forms of Social Media.
  • Images and Videos.
  • Maps.
  • Government Documents--U.S. and rest of the world.
  • Laws, Court Cases and Decisions, Treaties.
  • Newspapers.

Quantitative data:

  • Statistics & Data
  • Public Opinion Polls

Secondary sources are interpretations and analyses based on primary sources.

For example, an autobiography is a primary source while a biography is a secondary source.

Typical secondary sources include:

  • Scholarly Journal Articles.  Use these and books exclusively for writing Literature Reviews.
  • Magazines.
  • Reports.
  • Encyclopedias.
  • Handbooks.
  • Dictionaries.
  • Documentaries.
  • Newspapers.

When secondary sources become primary sources: Often secondary and primary sources are relative concepts.  Typical secondary sources may be primary sources depending on the research topic.

  1. Intellectual history topics.
    For example, although scholarly journal articles are usually considered secondary sources, if one's topic is the history of human rights, then journal articles on human rights will be primary sources in this instance.  Similarly, research on the thinking of a scholar will include her published journal articles as primary sources.
  2. Historical topics.
    Magazine articles are secondary sources, but for someone researching the view of judicial punishment in the 1920s, magazines from that time period are primary sources.  Indeed, any older publication, such as those prior to the 20th century, is very often automatically considered a primary source.
  3. Newspapers may be either primary or secondary.
    Most articles in newspapers are secondary, but reporters may be considered as witnesses to an event.  Any topic on the media coverage of an event or phenomenon would treat newspapers as a primary source.  There are so many articles and types of articles in newspapers that newspapers can often be considered either primary or secondary.

Using UNLV Libraries Quick Search

Finding Popular, Legal, and Scholarly Articles

General Reference Sources

Newspaper Databases

UNLV Special Collections & Archives

Finding Data & Statistics

You can also specify finding statistics on Google and limiting it to .gov sources.

For example, if you want to find out about recycling statistics, type in "recycling statistics"

Oral History Resources

Using Google Scholar

What is Google Scholar?
Google Scholar searches for scholarly materials such as peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from broad areas of research. Google Scholar searches a variety of undisclosed academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web. The full text of many items is freely available online, although in some instances abstracts with links to pay-per-view document delivery services are displayed.

Finding Government Information & Legislation

An easy way to find government information (federal, state, and local) is to go to Google and limit your search to only government sources.

For example, let's say you want to focus on global warming--Type in "global warming" to limit only to government resources.

You can also specify finding statistics on Google and limiting it to .gov sources.

For example, if you want to find out about recycling statistics, type in "recycling statistics"

Streaming Videos via UNLV Libraries

Opinion Polls

Urban Affairs Librarian

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