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ENGL 30H: Honors Rhetoric and Composition (Nesbitt)


Throughout your research, you will find many different kinds of sources: tweets, websites, Wikipedia entries, newspaper and magazine articles, books, journal articles, and so on.  These differences in form largely reflect their overall purpose. There is a reason, for example, that scientific research appears in peer-reviewed journals or that current news appears in newspapers or that celebrity gossip appears on

If that's confusing, take a look at how this page to explore this idea in more detail.


Scholarship is a conversation between scholars and scientists. As an inexperienced researcher, you may find it difficult to makes meaningful contributions to this conversation. Finding reliable background information can help you:

  • Learn what questions have already been asked. Getting up to speed on the conversation can be daunting, so finding productive ways to enter it is an important step.
  • Discover the language experts use to talk about the subject.   Research within specific disciplines is often discussed using a specialized/technical language. You need to be aware of that language to efficiently and effectively search library resources.
  • Uncover key concepts, people, and/or events. If the investigation of one idea proves unproductive, these elements may provide you with additional avenues of inquiry.

Entries in the encyclopedias, like those listed below, can provide excellent overviews for most concepts. You will usually find references or suggested books and articles for further reading at the end of the articles.

If you’re stuck, it never hurts to check Wikipedia for inspiration. You may discover a ton of useful information. But it should never be used as a final source. Any information you find should be corroborated in other sources.


Many instructors require students to use scholarly (academic), peer-reviewed journal articles for college research papers. However, students often don’t know where to find these articles and aren’t even sure what a scholarly article looks like.

This chart outlines the differences between scholarly journals, trade publications, and popular magazines.

Below is the most commonly used database, but make sure to check the Subject Guide for your major (or intended major) to find the recommended databases for your field.