Finding Research Sources

Sources of Research

After you find a topic, define the research problem and pose questions, the next step is find sources to develop the research solution. The sources may be divided into three kinds

Primary Sources

These are the first or basic sources which are used to gather raw data and test the working hypothesis. The primary sources may also be used to support the research claim. Primary sources are the original records survived from the past. These may include original letters, pictures, articles like clothing etc. In religious context, these could be the scriptures such as the Quran, Hadeeth, and Bible etc.

Secondary Sources

These are also from the past. But these are the accounts created by people. These may be in the form of commentaries, biographies, or books on original sources.

Tertiary Sources

These may include research reports, magazines, articles, journals, textbooks, encyclopaedias etc. According to the authors of the Craft of Research, tertiary sources may be used “to get a feel for the topic”.¬† The tertiary sources, however, may not be used to support a scholarly argument, or else, it may turn the paper untrustworthy.

 Research Locations

Location of research determines the nature of the research activity. Research is conducted both outside and inside. The outside research is conducted in the field and hence called field research. Field research is interacting with people and gathering data or investigation the issues. The research inside may be conducted in the library, home or the internet. The inside research is generally known as library research.

 Planning the Search

1. Look up in Encyclopaedias. These may be general such as Collier’s, Britannica or specialised such Encyclopaedia of Religion.

2. Bibliographies. Some libraries offer online databases.

3. Talk to the Librarian. Save your time and theirs. Prepare your questions.

4. Scan the Shelf

Once you are on the relevant shelf, scan the titles all around.

5. Choose the titles

Skim each title table of contents and its index for keywords.

6. Talk to experts

These could be teachers, advanced students or others who specialised in the subject area.

7. Use the Internet

A general impression is that the data on the internet is not trustworthy, authentic and accurate. This may be true of up to some extent. But this is not the whole truth. You can still find a lot reliable information from universities, libraries, government websites and other specialised agencies.

8. Evaluate Resources

Source relevance

Source Reliability

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