Sources are an inevitable part of research paper writing. It is used for reference, information sourcing and to support the stated theory. Research paper sources come in various types and categories. Having a good grasp of the types of sources and the difference in its uses will be helpful while looking for suitable ones for your research paper.

One type of categorization used for classifying sources is that of the medium of documentation. There are text sources or hard copy sources and there are also internet sources. Some assignment guidelines put restrictions on the use of these two types of sources. For example, some guidelines specify the use of a certain number of internet sources and text sources. And some other assignments forbid the use of internet sources. Hence you should always remember to check the guidelines on the sources, before making your choice.

Research paper sources are also classified with reference to its proximity to the author. A source which comes directly from the author in the form of a book or an article is called a primary source. Primary sources are the strongest and most reliable type of sources to be used. A primary source will not have anything or anyone between itself and the author. This includes books, journals and articles published in the name of the author.
Then there are secondary sources. These are citations of the original article you find in another book or as a part of another article. It could be in the form of a quotation or a citation or even reference. The credibility of secondary sources depends upon the reliability of the author who has cited the primary source. These are also equally permissible as primary sources, unless specified otherwise in the guidelines. Text books or reviews would be the best examples of secondary sources as they are always based on a primary source. If you are using a piece of information from a particular lesson in your text book, remember to cite the secondary and primary sources according in the correct manner.

You will also find another type of sources called the tertiary sources, which comprise of indexes of articles and similar lists which help locate the primary or secondary source. The tertiary sources will not be able to be of any direct help in your research. It can only be used to locate the main sources and for the same reason a tertiary source is never mentioned in citations. Even the bibliographical reference page of your own research paper can be classified as a tertiary source as it will direct the reader to the primary and secondary sources.

Only by knowing the various types of sources and the difference between each of them, will you be able to follow the guidelines on the sources. And without appropriate sources you will not be able to complete your research paper successfully. The guidelines on research paper sources are also aimed at testing your understanding of the sources. So choose wisely if you are aiming at preparing an outstanding research paper.

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