Some types of resources are NOT acceptable to cite in your research papers. These include:
As with most things, there can be exceptions to the rules. For example, it might be acceptable to use subject specific dictionaries for term definitions. Also, newspaper articles from reputable publications such as the New York Times or Washington Post might be acceptable sources depending on your topic, but articles from local newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle or Marshall Independent are not.
If you are ever unsure whether or not something is an acceptable source, ask your professor or a librarian.
This chart provides descriptions of various types of periodicals and journals. For graduate research, you'll want to focus primarily on scholarly/peer-reviewed articles. Being able to recognize alternate forms of articles is an important aspect of the research process.
Types of Publications
|Scholarly/ Peer Reviewed Journals||Professional/ Trade Journals||Commentary/ Opinion Journals||Popular Magazines||Newspapers
|Examples|| American Journal of Sociology
Journal of Experimental Psychology
New York Times
|Primary Use or Value||Original research||Current trends, professional news, company information||Social & political commentary & analysis, political viewpoints||Entertainment, current events, hot topics, popular culture||Current news, local & regional information, classified ads|
|Language||Academic, technical||Written for practitioners. Can use jargon extensively||Most written for a generally educated audience||Non-technical language||Non-technical, written for a general audience|
|Authors||Researchers, academics, professors, scholars||Professionals in the field or journalists with subject expertise||Variable: academics, journalists, spokespersons for "groups"||Mainly journalists, occasionally freelance journalists||Journalists|
|Source Citations||Footnotes, bibliographies. Often extensive documentation||Occasional brief bibliographies. Some sources cited in text||Occasionally cite sources in text or bibliographies||Rarely cite any sources||Rarely cite sources in full|
|Publisher||Universities, scholarly presses, or academic/ research organizations||Commercial publishers or professional/ trade associations||Commercial publishers or non-profit organizations||Commercial publishers||Commercial publishers|
|Graphics and Advertising||Graphs, charts, formulas, depending on discipline. No glossy ads||Photographs, charts, tables, illustrations. Some ads for products related to the field||Wide variety of graphics, from plain to glossy ads||Very glossy. Full of color ads||Pictures, charts, ads of all sorts|
|Finding Aids/ Access Tools||Some from general indexes like MegaFile, some in specialized indexes like PsychInfo||Indexes like Business Source Premier. sometimes also in general scholarly indexes like Academic Search Premier||General indexes like MegaFile, Academic Search Premier||General indexes like MegaFile, Academic Search Premier||In indexes like Newspapers. Some major papers in general indexes|
Adapted with permission from G. Gradowski, who kindly provided an update of the chart from Gradowski, G., Snavely, L., & Dempsey, P. (1998) Designs for active learning: A sourcebook of classroom strategies for information education. Chicago: ACRL.
As you search in the databases, you'll see that some of them bring back results by article type, or they will give you the option to sort by article type. This can be a huge time-saver. If you can eliminate articles that won't be acceptable for your assignments, use the tools to do that.