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Introduction to Library Research: Finding Books & Articles

Library handouts and a video presentation on starting your research using the resources at the Macdonald-Kelce Library at The University of Tampa.

Types of Sources

There are three types of sources: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Primary sources are original first hand materials which have not been interpreted. These include materials like diaries, court proceedings, institutional records, statistical data (raw data), or speeches. Original scientific research is also a primary source. See the Primary Sources research guide for information on locating primary sources.

Secondary sources are materials that evaluate, interpret, and discuss primary sources. Scholarly journal articles, histories, and monographs are all secondary interpretations of original materials. Start with some database recommendations in the box to the right (Proquest, etc.) Here's one more: Taylor and Francis.

Tertiary sources are materials like encyclopedias, Wikipedia, or other reference works. These works compile and summarize primary and secondary sources. Consult these sources during the initial stages, but use primary and secondary sources for your research. Access reference databases here.


  • Look for books in the Online Catalog.
  • Books are typically more comprehensive than scholarly articles. Check the Table of Contents and Index for key terms and concepts.
  • Follow bibliographic trails. Use the citations or bibliography in a book to locate more books or articles.
  • Browse the shelf. Academic libraries use the Library of Congress Classification System. This alphanumeric organization clusters similar materials together. The perfect book may be on the shelf so take a moment to look around.
  • If you can't find a particular book in this library, Interlibrary Loan it, and we can get it for you from another library.

Scholarly Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

  • Log in to Esearch to search databases for peer-reviewed journal articles.
  • Academic Search Complete, JSTOR, and ProQuest are comprehensive multidisciplinary databases. Check the "scholarly peer review" limiter to ensure your results are retrieved from only scholarly journal sources.
  • The library has many subject specific databases. Check the library's Subject Guides to find which databases may be most appropriate for your research topic.
  • Unsure if your article is peer-reviewed? Check the database Ulrichsweb to find out.