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ENG 350 Young Adult Literature Class Guide

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

For this research paper, you need one or two primary sources (the source/s you will be examining) and several 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. For this class, literary criticism might be difficult to locate, so see the "Source for this Class" section.

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 the scholarship
  • Uses technical language that is not intended to be understood 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

Sources for this Class

Your professor recommends the following variety of sources for this assignment:

  • author webpages

  • publisher webpages

  • author interviews

  • professional book reviews (not reader reviews on Amazon or Goodreads)

  • news releases about a book that wins an award

  • information about a social issue that the book explores, like racism, depression, the impact of a parent’s past on a teen, etc.

Literary criticism is generally the best form of research for an assignment like this, but oftentimes, the books that you have read haven't been published long enough to be written about critically. See the Searching Google Scholar and Using Library Databases page for some insight on finding critical literary articles.

Important reminder from your professor: "Whatever research you include, be sure to integrate it into your interpretation of the book, not simply report on the issue."