Subject Guides

HIST 180A/280A: Mapping American Prejudice

Guide Contents

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Types of Sources

Primary Sources

Materials created at the time under study, that serve as original evidence documenting a time period, event, people, idea, or work. Primary sources can be printed materials (such as books and ephemera), manuscript/archival materials (such as diaries or ledgers), audio/visual materials (such as recordings or films), artifacts (such as clothes or personal belongings), or born-digital materials (such as emails or digital photographs). Primary sources can be found in analog, digitized, and born-digital forms. Newspapers are considered primary sources when they document an eyewitness account of an event, are used to understand interpretations/impressions of a period, are used for analysis of advertisements, etc.

Secondary Sources

Works that synthesize and/or comment on primary and/or other secondary sources. Secondary sources, which are often works of scholarship, are differentiated from primary sources by the element of critical synthesis, analysis, or commentary. Secondary sources are most often scholarly books and journal articles. Newspapers are considered secondary sources when they synthesize past reports, are research-based, and/or are used for background information on your topic.

Tertiary Sources

Works that index, abstract, organize, compile, or digest other sources, and typically present that content with relevant context. 

Some definitions taken from the ACRL Guide for Primary Source Literacy

Types of Publications


A single book written on one topic

Edited Volume:

A book on one theme/topic with chapters on different themes/topics written by different authors

Conference Proceedings:

A book with chapters written by each presenter for one conference

Types of Publications in Peer Reviewed Journals

Research Article:

  • Presents original research conducted by author(s) on a specific topic
  • Peer reviewed

Review Article/Historiography:

  • A summary, synthesis, discussion, or assessment of one or more research works
  • Serves as a guide to a research topic, and may suggest future research and ideas
  • Peer reviewed

Book Review:

  • Article written by author reviewing one or more books
  • Usually only one or a few pages long
  • Not peer reviewed


  • Discussion on a current issue, idea, or topic, often presented in a conversational style
  • Usually a full-length article
  • Not peer reviewed

Commentary, Editorial, or Reply:

  • Opinion piece on an issue, topic, or study, often in a persuasive style
  • Usually brief
  • Not peer reviewed