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Research Basics

Scholarly Vs. Popular

Most assignments will require scholarly or academic sources. What qualifies as a scholarly source and how you can tell the difference between scholarly sources and popular sources?

Need help to determine if the resource qualifies as a scholarly resource? Consult with a Library staff member.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources

Be careful when using secondary and tertiary sources because the further you get from the original primary source, the more opportunities have existed to slant the information, misinterpret the findings, or otherwise alter the information.

Evaluating Websites

What's in a name? The domain name (main part of the website) includes the registered website title and a period followed by a three character extension. These extensions can provide insight into the credibility of the website:


  • .gov -  site is run by a governmental organization.
  • .edu - site is run by an educational institution.
  • .org - site is run by a non-profit organization. Beware that any type of "non-profit" organization can acquire these domain name extensions.
  • .com - site is run by a company or a corporation.  The content may be designed by an educational institution, but the site itself is run by a commercial company.

Additional Tips


An excellent place to find new information sources about your topic is in the Reference or Bibliography lists of relevant articles and textbooks. If your library location does not have a specific resource, we can help you locate it, even outside of West Coast University.  Bibliographies can indicate the titles of journals and/or articles where you may find more information on the same topic.

Class Resources

Your required and recommended textbooks and readings are great resources about your subject!  Also, note the authors of these resources and seek out additional publications by them to supplement your research.

Assignment Guidelines

What resources are needed to complete your assignment?

  • Articles from scholarly, peer-reviewed journals?
  • Books and/or eBooks?
  • Information from government agencies or professional associations?
  • Do the sources need to be primary sources or can you use secondary sources?

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