Understanding Essay Research Sources

March 13, 2024 CustomEssay.com Write my essay


The main purposes of all essays are fairly basic. Essays share, educate, argue a specific standpoint, make observations on the thesis, tell a story or express understanding of a concept. To achieve your goal on any essay, you will need to carefully read and understand the academic literature. This article will provide you with some ideas on how you can achieve this goal.


Types of Sources

The sources that you will use to write your essay at the college or university level are generally divided into two different types:

- Primary sources

- Secondary sources


Primary Sources

A primary source is an original piece of text produced at the same time that the events described in the source took place. These sources can include letters, diaries, films, interviews, surveys, legal and political documents, news essays reporting current (and not past) events, and all types of fiction.


Secondary Sources

A secondary source is one that interprets primary sources or past events, such as scholarly research journal articles, an academic essay or dissertation, or non-fiction books based on research.


For most essays, secondary sources will be enough to get by, while for research essays primary sources are also often necessary components. Nonetheless, this distinction will highly depend on the topic of your essay and the field in which you are studying. Many history and literature essays also require primary sources.

Once you have your sources, there are several key steps that you need to take to use these sources effectively.

These are as follows:

- Read articles critically.
- Judge and interpret information from a research resource.
- Summarize important points from the research resource.
- Integrate the findings from the research resource with information presented in the course (readings or online study units).
- Construct an organized framework outlining your expanded view of the topic.
- Generate a conclusion.


The most important thing to understand about research sources, especially secondary sources, is that they always represent someone’s personal opinion, and therefore cannot be considered true or false in a definitive sense. It is your job to critically evaluate research sources in order to determine their validity and importance with respect to the topic you have chosen to study.