Script – Understanding Information Sources
Professor: Hi! I’m your professor for this 30 minute tutorial and I’ll be talking to you about all sorts of sources you may need to use while doing research. Let me introduce three of my students that will help you in this tutorial.
Tiffany: Hi. I’m Tiffany. I’m the next president of the United States! I’ll be your guide with primary/secondary sources. Click on my image to learn more.
*Image text* You will be watching a video about Tiffany (that’s my alter ego) and her two friends doing a research paper. If you hear me saying “click me” while my image is moving click on me to see what I have to say.
Derek: Hi. I’m Derek. I’m your pizza guy, the protector of pizzas in Metropolis. I’ll be your guide with popular/scholarly/trade journals and the variety of sources. Click on my image to learn more.
*Image text* My alter ego in the video is supporting his way through college by delivering pizzas. He wants to start his own pizza franchise. Zoe, Tiffany and Derek are doing research for class. If you see me moving, yelling “Click Me”, then by all means see what I have to say.
Zoe: Hi! I’m Zoe. I’m everything green and beautiful. I’ll be your guide with qualitative/quantitative and current/historical sources. Click on my image to learn more.
*Image text* I love the outdoors. My alter ego in the video needs to write a paper along with her two friends, Tiffany and Derek. If you ever hear me saying “Click Me” while I’m moving then click me to see what I have to say.
1. Purpose of Research & Intro to Primary/Secondary Sources
Zoe: So how many pages did the professor say we needed for this assignment?
Tiffany: The professor said six pages, double spaced.
Zoe: Ugh. Have you figured out what you’re going to do?
Tiffany: I was thinking about something on the constitution and the executive branch, but, not real sure.
Zoe: Well, that sounds like you, Madam President.
Tiffany: Hey. I can’t help it that stuff interests me. That’s what we were told to do. Find something that interests us.
Derek: Hey guys, sorry I’m late. I overslept, worked late again.
Zoe: It’s ok, we still love you. We haven’t really done anything. Have you decided what you’re going to do your paper on?
Derek: Yeah. I was thinking about doing something about finding a better job. I’m trying to start my own pizza place instead of working for some big company. Yeah, I could call my place “Super Guy Pizza”. I think my paper title could be: Can a small business survive in the corporate world?
Tiffany: Yeah, that sounds like a Pulitzer.
Zoe: I don’t even know where to start. I mean, how am I going to collect information on this assignment?
Derek: I know what you mean. It’s kind of overwhelming.
*Derek’s Image text* The research process can seem overwhelming because you may be unsure how to get started. When coming up with ideas:
Zoe: Well, I’m not going to lie; I don’t have the attention span for focusing. But yeah, instead of trying to do like the whole campus, maybe I can narrow my topic down to what people think about something on campus, like the fountain or the Pioneer Woman. Would I need primary sources for that?
Derek: Primary Sources? Are we supposed to use primary sources?
What is a primary source?
A) A source that you should try first in your research before any other source
B) A source that analyzes another source
C) Firsthand materials, such as interviews, diaries, and maps that are not interpretations
What is a secondary source?
A) A source that interprets or analyzes another source
B) A source that is raw data
C) A source that you should use last in your research
Tiffany: Yes, the professor said we need to use primary and secondary sources. Ok, primary sources are firsthand materials, such as interviews, diaries, maps, graphs, statistics, charts, and any other original documents. The important thing to remember about primary sources is that they are not interpretations or analyses of a subject. Rather, they are raw data, direct personal observations, experiments, or transcripts.
Zoe: While you’re at it, go ahead and read off what it says about secondary sources.
Tiffany: Secondary sources are writings about primary sources, or about information extracted from them. They may take the form of opinions or summaries. So for my paper, the Constitution is a primary source, and an Encyclopedia Britannica article about the Constitution is a secondary source. But I also know that I need to use a variety of sources like the professor said.
Zoe: A variety of sources can show different points of view and stuff. Cool.
Derek: Hey, can we meet later? I’ve got to go check my work schedule.
Professor: The purpose of research is to find answers to questions; it’s the process of investigation. You need to ask questions about topics that interest you, things you’ve been reading, or conversations you’ve had in class. Are there any current events that you would like to learn more about? Once you have a general idea, narrow the topic into something more manageable. Keep asking yourself questions such as who, what, where, when, why, and how until you get to a point where you run out of questions. For example, instead of writing about world peace, try writing about how U.S. ambassadors work to solve conflicts with other nations.
Chapter 1: Summary of key points
2. Narrowing down the topic
Tiffany: Yeah, I still need some time to think. Gotta narrow my topic down. I’m going to check out the library and think about this stuff. You guys still want to meet at the student center at noon?
Zoe: Student center it is.
Derek: So what did the professor say that was the first step in doing research?
Tiffany: Get ideas.
Zoe: Pick a focus.
Derek: Organize your thoughts and your research, and ask plenty of questions. See you later.
Zoe: I think I’m going to hang out at the garden and get some inspiration.
Tiffany: See you later! I think I’m going to run to the library.
Zoe thinking to herself.
Zoe: Okay, so I’m doing some research to see if a nice looking campus does anything for a person’s learning. Narrow down my topic. Not the whole campus. How about this garden area here? Does this garden area add to a student's learning?
Tiffany thinking to herself.
Tiffany: Ok, focus here. Executive office. The President. What about the powers of the president? Is that topic narrow enough? What is my question? Need to focus. Something more narrow.
Tiffany: Focus Tiffany.
Zoe: No she needs to narrow down her topic.
Derek: Do both. Focus and narrow your topic.
Derek thinking to himself.
Derek: I need to focus. I’ve got to narrow down my topic. Can a small business make it in the corporate world? How can I narrow that down? What do I want to do? How do small businesses compare with big corporations? I’ve got it! My topic is: What challenges would I face if I opened my own pizza place and had to compete with big corporations, like Pizza Giant?
Tiffany thinking to herself.
Tiffany: I think I’ve got it. My topic is: What are some things U.S. Presidents have done to preserve, protect, and defend our constitution? Things like laws, decisions, or bills they’ve supported.
Zoe thinking to herself.
Zoe: Okay. Now ask questions.
Zoe's character says click me. Remember to ask - Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.
How does it add to learning? Is it a good place to relax and refocus after a hard test? Sitting in a quiet place like this does help me concentrate and focus. I can definitely study here. It sort of reminds me of something I read in English. Thoreau, Walden? Benefits of being close to nature? Hmm. My topic is going to be: Is a natural environment beneficial to students learning? Cool, and doing some interviews could be one of my primary sources.
Derek thinking to himself.
Derek: That’s right. That’s why I’m going to college. To learn this business type stuff and start my own business, and not have to work for the man.
Professor: Exactly Derek! I’m here to help. Select a subject, ask questions, narrow the subject, organize your thoughts, focus on a topic, think about the assignment. Now the next step is to start thinking about what sources you are going to use. Remember, you may need primary and secondary sources for this assignment. Primary sources are contemporary accounts of an event, written by someone who has experienced or witnessed the event in question. These are original documents. They are not about another document or account. These usually include diaries, letters, memoirs, journals, speeches, manuscripts, and interviews. Secondary sources interpret primary sources. They draw conclusions about the events reported in primary sources. These might include a journal or magazine article which interprets or analyzes business statistics, a marketing text book, or a book about the effects of business laws.
Chapter 2: Summary of Key Points
3. Intro to Scholarly/Popular/Trade Journals
Zoe (to herself): I wonder if anyone else has done research on learning and campus aesthetics. I could look for some journal articles. The professor also mentioned current sources and historical sources. Would it be better to use current sources or historical sources? Man, it sure is a beautiful day out here today.
A scholarly journal:
A) May mention, but seldom cites, any sources
B) Contains extensive advertising
C) Is written by and for scholars, researchers, and professionals in a particular field
A popular journal:
A) Usually cites sources with footnotes and/or bibliographies
B) Informs and/or entertains
C) Reviews, reports, and makes available original research
Derek (to himself): I wonder what different kinds of magazines that are out there. What kind of source would that be? I remember the prof saying that a magazine is a popular source. The prof said that we can use popular stuff, but we also have to get some scholarly and professional stuff too, like journal articles. Maybe a study on independent pizza places. Okay, I need a scholarly source. An article written by some sort of business expert. Is there a pizza business journal? I’ll check the net. Hmm, I could call the library. I’ve got my cell phone…somewhere.
Derek: TWU library?
Chapter 3: Summary of Key Points
4. More Examples of Primary/Secondary Sources
Librarian: Hi, how may I help you?
Tiffany: Where are the encyclopedias and I need to get a copy of the Constitution.
Librarian: Sure, I can help you find those and some other resources. You can search the online catalog for encyclopedias and other resources. We have a lot of encyclopedias available online.
Tiffany: Great. Thank you!
Derek (to himself): Better hurry and get back to the group. This wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have to work tonight, but of course, if I don’t bring pizza to the people, who will?
Tiffany (to herself): So, I decided that I can use the Constitution as a primary source, and maybe an encyclopedia for my secondary source. But what else can I use for primary and secondary sources?
Tiffany's character says click me. Remember, primary sources are firsthand materials such as interviews, diaries, etc., that are not interpretations or analyses and secondary sources are writings that analyze and interpret primary sources.
Tiffany (to herself): For primary sources, maybe I could find some interviews with the President? That would be good. I could check some newspapers. Those are great current sources. Okay, secondary. Secondary. What did we talk about in class? Maybe I can find some articles analyzing the different presidential actions during their terms. Would that work?
Professor: Remember Tiffany, the use of both primary and secondary sources will make your research paper a well rounded and complete investigation of the topic. Primary sources are firsthand materials, such as interviews, dairies, maps, graphs, statistics, charts, and other original documents. The important thing to remember about primary sources is that they are not interpretations or analyses of a subject, rather they are raw data, direct personal observations, experiments, or transcripts. Secondary sources, are writings about primary sources or about information extracted from them. They may take the form of opinions or summaries. Finding an article analyzing different presidential actions during their terms would be an excellent secondary source to use for your paper.
Chapter 4: Summary of Key Points
5. Current & Historical Sources
Tiffany (alter ego): She's going to make me yawn.
Zoe (alter ego): Don't yawn.
Tiffany (alter ego): Mmmm, what was she doing last night?
Derek (alter ego): You can't sleep in the library.
Zoe (alter ego): She's been working so hard.
Tiffany in the video: I feel so sleepy.
Derek (alter ego): Wake up Tiffany.
Tiffany falls asleep and begins dreaming.
President Tiffany: As your President, I promise to uphold the Constitution (alter ego characters are cheering).
When doing your research, you would most likely use current sources:
A) If you wanted to find out what happened on the day the Declaration of Independence was signed
B) If you wanted to find out how people feel about a recent election
C) If you wanted to find out what people thought about a university when it was built in 1900
When doing your research, you would most likely use historical sources:
A) If you needed to research current elections
B) If you were doing a paper about recent trends in education
C) If you wanted to find out when pizza became a popular food in the U.S.
Zoe (to herself): So, older articles for historical sources, and interviews for current sources. I hope that’s right.
Professor: Zoe, in order to write a good paper it may be important to include both current and historical sources. Historical sources are a great way to find out information about something that happened in the past, or what people thought about something when it was first created. Using historical research would be a great way to find out what students thought of the garden area when it was first created. You can use current sources to find out the effect that a natural environment has on a student's learning today, now.
Chapter 5: Summary of Key Points
Quantitative research is:
A) Research that involves numerical data
B) Research that involves descriptions
C) Research that involves concepts and theories
Qualitative research is:
A) Deals with descriptions so it’s not easy to measure
B) Can be easily measured by things like dollars and pounds
C) Always a secondary source
6. Qualitative & Quantitative Research
Zoe: I also remember the professor talking about qualitative and quantitative data. If I can count the number of people who come here to study in the garden, that would be quantitative. But if I asked each person why they came here to study, that would be qualitative, right?
Professor: Quantitative research involves analysis of numerical data. That could be the number of people who come to study in the garden. You could ask people how often they come here to study, once a week or once a month for example. Qualitative research deals with things like descriptions so it’s not so easy to measure. You can ask people why they come to the gardens to study and ask them to rate their experience. They could rate their experience studying here as either productive or non-productive, and this can be used as your qualitative data.
Chapter 6: Summary of Key Points
Having a good number and variety of sources is important in the research process because:
A) Using a variety of sources increases your chances of finding full text information
B) Using several sources will lend credibility to your research, and it may be helpful to have a wide range of perspectives and viewpoints
C) Journal articles are always scholarly
7. Good Variety of Sources & More Examples of Journals
Derek: I need to remember to get enough sources to cover the topic. That’s what the prof said. Good variety of sources and a good number of sources. But what did the prof mean by that?
Professor: Remember, when it comes to research, variety is key. Imagine that you are making one of your awesome pizzas and you’re getting your ingredients together. You wouldn’t just use one ingredient, would you?
Derek: I hear you prof. I definitely can’t make a pizza with just one ingredient. And a day without pizza would be like a day without sunshine.
Professor: When selecting your sources you will want to be sure to use a variety of viewpoints and materials. Try to find multiple sources that provide a wide range of perspectives and draw different conclusions on the topic you have chosen. The key is using a combination of ingredients like books, internet sites, scholarly journals, professional trade journals, and popular magazines.
Derek: So, when doing research, I need to use a variety of sources in order to fully explore my topic. Okay. Scholarly journals, professional trade journals, and popular magazines. But I’m still not totally clear on the differences.
Professor: Derek, scholarly journals are written by and for scholars, researchers, and professionals in a particular field. Their purpose is to review, report, and make available original research, experimentation, and information. Articles in these journals go through a peer-review, or refereed, process before publication. Sources are always formally cited. A scholarly journal that you could use for your research, Derek, would be something like "Journal of Business and Economic Statistics". Professional trade journals are often considered scholarly journals. These journals are written for people working in a particular profession and articles may or may not go through a peer-review, or refereed, process before publication. Sources are usually cited. A professional trade journal that you could use for your paper might be “Ad Week”. Popular magazines are written to appeal to the general public. Their purpose is to inform and/or entertain. Sources may be mentioned, but are not formally cited. Many popular magazines can be purchased at the supermarket or drug store. “US News and World Report” is a great example of a popular magazine to use for research.
Chapter 7: Summary of Key Points
8. Selecting Appropriate & Quality Sources for Your Research
Tiffany: You’re the only one here?
Derek: Yeah. How’s it going?
Tiffany: I’ve been working on my project.
Derek: Me too.
Zoe: Hey guys. Did you get your schedule Derek?
Derek: Yeah, I have to work tonight.
Derek: Yeah, it’s all good.
Tiffany: Ready to get started?
Zoe: Yeah, sure, ok.
Tiffany: So what have we done so far?
Zoe: Well, I have been working on narrowing my topic down.
Derek: Yeah, I’ve been asking a lot of questions. It really helped me figure out what I’m going to do.
Zoe: Stuff like who, what, when, where, and how?
Derek: Not only that, but what kind of sources I would need. Primary and secondary sources, scholarly journals, and probably some popular magazines. Maybe newspapers too.
Derek’s pop-up: Using a good variety of sources is important when doing research because it provides a wide range of perspectives and viewpoints.
Derek: I know that I really need be sure that my info in current because business trends change so fast. I understand why I need scholarly sources, because I want to get info from business pros. I also need to see what books the library has.
Zoe: Sounds good Derek. Have you guys gotten anything off the internet?
Derek: You know, I looked a lot on the internet. I think I saw ads for every pizza corporation. But, I did find this article on US News and World Report online about these two dudes that started this eco-friendly pizza company. Check this out, look, they even use hybrid delivery cars. So the projected sales for this year are 15 million, and they’re going to have a hundred stores open in another two years. Pretty good for a couple of little guys.
Derek fantasizes about delivering pizza like a superhero. The alter egos cheer him on.
Girl: Wow, I have never had pizza delivered in six minutes before.
Derek: You've never ordered from Super Guy Pizza. My crust is the crustiest, my sauce is the sauciest, and I am the awesomest. And since I can fly we are fuel emission free.
Tiffany: Remember though, you can’t use web pages unless they are quality web pages. Remember what the professor said. A quality web source needs to be current, accurate, objective, reliable, and provide good coverage.
Derek: Yeah, I noticed a bunch of web sites containing bias and advertisement type stuff. I saw some blog from this guy that talks about how Pizza Giant is the best, but he works there, probably the boss’s nephew or something. So, duh, it’s probably not a good source to use. So the key is to try and select sources likely to be accurate, authoritative, and objective. And most of the time, you’re going to find things that’s current.
Tiffany: Ok, books, journals, articles, newspapers, and internet sites. Why do we need so many sources?
Zoe: Well, newspapers articles give us very current information and tell us what people think about an issue, but they’re written by a reporter who isn’t necessarily an expert on the subject. Journals give us opinions and research studies from the experts.
Derek: Ok, but how do you know if the newspaper articles are primary or secondary sources?
Tiffany: It depends. If a newspaper article is written by a reporter who eye witnessed the event, then it would probably be primary. But if it is an article where the author is analyzing or commenting on an event, the source would be secondary.
Tiffany’s pop-up: Remember, primary sources are firsthand materials such as interviews, diaries, etc. that are not interpretations or analyses and secondary sources are writings that analyze and interpret primary sources.
Derek: Hmm, that makes sense. But what about books?
Zoe: You know, I e-mailed a librarian and she told me how to find electronic books in the online catalog that could help me understand more about my subject background -- information type stuff. One of the authors I found had already written two other books on how surroundings can affect learning. And there’s this book called “Marking a Trail” that’s also available online. It’s about the history of TWU and it has historical info about the gardens.
Derek: No way!
Zoe: Yeah, the librarian recommended a DVD on aesthetics and learning that I can watch later. I can also count the DVD as one of my sources.
Derek: Watching a movie for homework? Nice. Well, I was also able to find an internet site called the Bureau of Labor Statistics that has some really useful stats about entrepreneurship.
Tiffany: I went through already using an encyclopedia. I didn’t even know you could access encyclopedias online.
Tiffany: But instead of using general encyclopedias, like Britannica, I was able to get a subject specific encyclopedia. I didn’t know that there are subject specific encyclopedias for almost every topic.
Zoe: What’s the difference?
Tiffany: Well, you can have encyclopedias that some coverage about a lot of different things. But there are also subject specific encyclopedias that cover that topic. The librarian helped me find the “Encyclopedia of Politics”. I think the professor is going to be impressed by that source. And remember guys, we have to keep track of authors, titles, dates, pages, and all the things we need when we cite our sources.
Derek: Right, have to remember to do that. Hey Tiffany, can you show me how to find a subject encyclopedia on business?
Tiffany: Sure! See Derek, look at this.
Derek: Wow, “Encyclopedia of Business and Finance”. Cool. And can I view the whole encyclopedia on the computer?
Tiffany: Sure can.
Zoe: Hey, that’s pretty cool.
Derek: Yeah, I searched forever on the web and I found just one good article. But you found encyclopedia stuff using the online library catalog in like thirty seconds.
Zoe: When’s lunch?
Tiffany: Let’s go.
Professor: Remember, it is important to document your sources as you go through the research process. Be sure to save a copy of the source or make a note of the author name, title of the article, book, or journal, page number, publication date, URL, and other pertinent information.
Chapter 8: Summary of Key Points
9. Intro Empirical, Evidence-Based, and Case Studies
Derek: Ok, so the key is to try and select sources likely to be accurate, authoritative, and objective, and to try to make sure they’re current.
Zoe: Yeah, I probably wouldn’t want to use someone’s personal web page as a source for my paper. Sources like that might not even be accurate.
Derek: Yeah, you don’t want to use a web page as a current source if it was last updated five years ago.
Evidence based research is:
A) Research based on studies, expert’s knowledge base, and client preferences
B) Research that always includes longitudinal studies
C) Research that relies on quantitative evidence
Zoe: Hey, where’s Derek?
Tiffany: Oh, he has to go to work for the lunch rush.
Zoe: Oh, bummer. Chicken, that looks pretty good.
Tiffany: Yeah. Have you ever had it?
Zoe: Uh-uh. Hey Mari! I thought you graduated.
Mari: I’m working on my master's now and I’m doing research for a paper and I’m trying to get my sources together.
Zoe: Oh, so are we.
Mari: For my paper I need to use examples of empirical research.
Zoe: What’s that?
Mari: Empirical research is research based on experimentation or observation. I also need to find some case studies.
Zoe: What are those?
Mari: Case studies are scientific research that set out to get information, and I know I can find those in scholarly articles.
Tiffany: What else?
Mari: Evidence based research.
Zoe: Is that research based on evidence?
Mari: Well, it’s actually based on three things. Research studies, the expert’s knowledge base, and client choices.
Tiffany: Hmm, it sounds like you have your work cut out for you. Good luck on your paper.
Mari: Good luck to you guys too!
Tiffany and Zoe: See ya.
Tiffany: You know, I think my paper is going to be pretty good.
Zoe: Me too, I think we’ve learned a lot.
Chapter 9: Summary of Key Points
Chapter 10: Professor Wrap-Up
Professor: The purpose of research is to find answers to questions; it’s the process of investigation. You need to ask questions about topics that interest you. Things you’ve been reading, or conversations you’ve had. Once you have a general idea of your topic, narrow it down into something manageable.
You may need primary and secondary sources for your paper. Primary sources are contemporary accounts of an event, written by someone who experienced or witnessed the event in question. Secondary sources interpret primary sources. They draw conclusions about the events reported in primary sources.
When selecting your sources, you will want to be sure to use a variety of viewpoints and materials. Try to find multiple sources that provide a wide range of perspectives. These sources might include scholarly journals, professional trade journals, and popular magazines.
Scholarly journals are written by and for scholars, researchers, and professionals in a particular field. Their purpose is to review, report, and make available original research and information. Professional trade journals are often considered scholarly journals. These journals are written for people working in a particular profession and sources are usually cited. Popular magazines are written to appeal to the general public.
You may need to include both current and historical sources in your research. Historical sources are a great way to find out information about something that happened in the past while current sources are a great way to find out information about something going on today.
Depending on your topic, it may be helpful to know the differences between qualitative and quantitative research. Quantitative research involves analysis of numerical data. Qualitative research deals with things like descriptions. A good way to remember the difference between the two is to associate quality with qualitative and quantity with quantitative.
And remember why it is important to learn good research skills. The research process is one that you will be repeating throughout college and beyond. Having good research skills means that you can recognize when information is needed and be able to locate it, evaluate it, and use it effectively. Evaluating the authority, relevancy, usefulness, and the reliability of the information you find is an important step in the process of research. You will need to evaluate the materials you have selected in order to determine the best sources for your research paper or presentation.
Throughout the research process, be sure to save a copy of the source, or, make note of pertinent information, so that you can properly cite your sources and avoid plagiarism. The library has a great tool called RefWorks to help you cite your sources. For more information on how to avoid plagiarism, please view the plagiarism tutorial on the TWU Libraries web site.