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INT 101 Gary Richardson

last modified Oct 13, 2016 09:01 AM

This guide is a one-stop-shop for your Annotated Bibliography and Research Paper assignments. You should be able to find all of the information you need here, but if you have any questions or need additional help, please contact Amy Gratz (info at right) or ask a librarian.

Source Types

Books (Non-Fiction): Longer works, often but not always written by scholars, including a variety of types, such as collections of essays, in-depth analyses, and thematic monographs. Typically books written by scholars are written at a more general reading level than peer-reviewed articles. These are a very acceptable source for academic research, especially in the humanities.

Government sources: Documents published by an official governing body for a variety of audiences, ranging from the general public to researchers. These sources are academically appropriate, but not technically scholarly since they are not peer-reviewed, and may not be written by scholars.

Popular or Mass Media sources: Publications intended for the general public; the main purpose is usually entertainment. Whether or not they should be used depends on the research topic.

Scholarly sources (aka Peer-Reviewed and Academic): Publications intended for researchers; the main purpose is usually informative. These publications are written by scholars and reviewed by other experts in the field prior to publication. Most scholarly articles are research articles (presenting original research), but some fields also publish review articles (summarizing the research done on a specific topic). These are the most commonly used source type in academic research.

Trade Sources: Publications intended for practitioners in a field, generally aimed at helping them stay abreast of current trends and news pertinent to the field. Articles are generally written by magazine staff and contributing authors, who are usually professionals working in the field. These are rarely used in academic research, but may sometimes be appropriate.

Reasons to use Popular Sources:

  • They are easier to understand, because they are written for the general public
  • They are more likely to contain information on recent events
  • They can give you an insight into what type of information is available to the general populace on a subject
Reasons to use Scholarly Sources:
  • They are generally the most highly valued source of information in academic circles
  • They are written by and reviewed by experts in the field
  • The information they contain critically examines some aspect of the world 
Evaluating and Reading

Regardless of the type of source you have, there are several criteria for deciding whether or not to use it in your paper. Start with the C.R.A.P. test to do a basic evaluation:

Currency: is the information recent enough for your topic? OverThink

Relevancy: does the information relate to your topic, either directly or indirectly?

Authority: who wrote the information, and are they an authoritative source?

Purpose: what was the intent of the author when writing this information?

Once you have done a general overview of the source, you will need to do a more in-depth evaluation of the source information. At this point, you will need to do a close, critical reading of the source. Most importantly, you need to apply your own critical thinking skills: does the author's argument make sense? can you think of any counter-arguments or points they failed to consider? Do they seem to be manipulating the data in any way?

Answers to these questions will help you write your annotation for your bibliography. I recommend that you include information in your annotation that will help you remember how you can use each source in your research paper later, such as whether or not some sources agree with one another. For more ideas on what to include in your annotations, check our our guide on how to write an annotated bibliography.

Reading Scholarly Research Articles: Since you are not experts in the field, this can be tricky. While you should certainly read the whole thing at least once, I recommend reading the article out of order:

1. Read the abstract and introduction - between these two sections, you should get a good idea of what the author's main argument is

2. Look for section headers such as "results" "discussion" or "conclusion" - read these sections thoroughly. You may want to start with the conclusion first, and then work backwards to the other sections, if present.

3. Read through the rest of the article, including any tables or charts

4. Read the introduction and conclusion again

Remember that you can, and should, stop reading the article as soon as it seems too irrelevant! If you're really struggling to find enough useful information, though, you may want to jot down a few general impressions in case you need to come back to a source later.

Be sure to look up terms you don't know!

Image "OverThink" by Lori Semprevio, 2010. Used under the CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license

Discovery Advanced Search - This tool allows you to search the library catalog and about half of our databases simultaneously. For this assignment, I recommend you use it primarily to locate books about political rhetoric - be sure to limit you search to the library catalog to do so. 

Research Library (ProQuest) — this database provides access to both peer-reviewed and popular sources. Try using the subject refinement tool on the search results page to exclude irrelevant topics and include useful ones.

TOPICsearch (EBSCO) — A current events database covering social, political, and economic issues, scientific discoveries, and other popular topics. The database contains full text for diverse sources including international and regional newspapers, periodicals, biographies, public opinion polls, book reviews, pamphlets, and government information.

CQ Researcher — Coverage of political and social issues, with reports on topics in health, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, and the U.S. economy.

Homeland Security Digital Library — Topics covered include borders and immigration, emergency management, infrastructure protection, intelligence, law and justice, management and economics, military, politics and government, public health, technology, terrorism and society, weapons and weapons systems.

ProQuest Newspapers — Provides full-text access to several major national newspapers. Coverage includes full-text articles but not advertisements, illustrations, or photographs.

Think Tank Search - created and maintained by Harvard Library, "Think Tank Search is a custom Google search of more than 600 think tank websites. For the purposes of this search, think tanks are defined as institutions affiliated with universities, governments, advocacy groups, foundations, non-governmental organizations, and businesses that generate public policy research, analysis, and activity." (description from Harvard Library website) 

Government Documents: - the official U.S. gateway to all government information. It connects you to millions of web pages-from the federal government, local and tribal governments, and to foreign nations around the world.

FDSys  (Federal Digital System) - FDSys is a free service of the U. S. Government Printing Office (GPO) that provides electronic access to a wealth of official, full-text information produced by the three branches of the Federal Government.

Recommended Websites: - a nonprofit charity that seeks to "Promote critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, primarily pro-con format." (description from

Governing - a media platform that "provides nonpartisan news, insight and analysis on such issues as public finance, transportation, economic development, health, energy, the environment and technology." (description from

Urban Institute - an organization that conducts economic and social policy research with the goal of strengthening communities (description based on page).

TEDTalks - TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. On, the best talks and performances from TED and partners are available to the world, for free. More than 900 TEDTalks are now available, with more added each week. (Description taken from

C-SPAN video archives - this site contains video coverage from C-SPAN, which is dedicated to providing access "to the live gavel-to-gavel proceedings of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and to other forums where public policy is discussed." (Description taken from The archive includes campaign speeches and other videos relevant to your topic.

Party and Candidate Websites: 


APA Style (6th Edition)
MLA Style (8th edition)
Chicago Manual of Style

Remember, you can ask a librarian to help with your citations - you can even email your paper and we'll check them over for you! Just be sure to include which citation style you're using :)

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