Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

ENG 337 Asian American Literature Class Guide

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

For this research paper, you need one primary source (the source you will be examining) and at least three secondary sources.

Primary sources are original works. In literature, a primary source can be:

  • a novel or novella
  • a poem
  • a short story
  • an essay
  • a play

Secondary sources discuss primary sources. Generally in literature, secondary sources are literary criticism found in academic journals or books. The best variety of sources for literary criticism are generally peer-reviewed articles.

Popular versus Academic Sources

When you evaluate information, you need to do it a little differently depending on the type of resource you're looking at, but how do you know the difference between an academic resource and a popular resource.

An academic/scholarly resource:

  • Is generally written by faculty members, medical doctors, and scholars for the purpose of scholarship
  • Uses technical language that is not intended to be understand by the general populace, but rather an expert in the field in which it is published
  • Often will go through the peer review process, which is intended to ensure the validity of the resource:

A popular resource:

  • Is ordinarily written by a professional journalist or writer, and is intended to be read by a general populace (rather than experts in the field)
  • Written in easily understood language and cover broader topics
  • Are not evaluated by experts in the field
  • Lack a list of resources that were referenced by the author during the writing process

A web source:

  • Is accessible directly through Google
  • Can be written and published by anyone (whether they are from the government, a college or institution, or if they have no credentials at all)
  • Does not go through any vetting at all, whether it be peer-review or an editor