This Primer is a brief recap of the concepts taught in Research Boot Camp (part of the Gateway 101 curriculum).
Please use this Primer to refresh your memory on these concepts before you begin searching and/or before attending a library instruction session.
The content in the left column will help you find sources by research planning and building searches.
The content in the right column will help you interpret sources as primary/secondary/tertiary and as scholarly/popular
Still have questions? Please schedule a research consultation with one of our Reference & Instruction Librarians or swing by the Reference Desk.
Generate a search terms list.
Remember to practice phrase searching!
Use Boolean Operators to connect your research terms and build searches.
There are 3 main Boolean Operators: OR, AND, & NOT.
When searching for sources, you will likely get a lot of results. However, not all of the sources you find are the same type, and not all of them will be used in your research the same way.
One way to classify sources is by the source's relationship to original ideas and original information. The categories we use for this are Primary sources, Secondary sources, and Tertiary sources.
Another way to classify sources is as Scholarly and Popular sources. Both can be used in research, but they cannot be used interchangeably.