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What Are Main Characteristics of Sources for Literature Review

A well-written paper and literature are two important components of research. If your research lacks evidence and sources where you get your relevant data from, it becomes useless. Sources and references provide credibility to your research, and readers can rely on your research to search for information. Your research paper’s most comprehensive and insightful part is a literature review. Your literature review shows that you spent time backing your claims with evidence. It provides authenticity and credibility to your research, so you must know the main characteristics of sources for literature review. To know how important sources are and what kinds of sources we use in the literature review, follow this article.

What Are The Three Types Of Sources For A Literature Review?

The three main sources for a literature review are primary, secondary and tertiary. First-hand materials that give direct evidence on your issue are primary sources. These could range from the history’s raw materials and actual texts to the items produced during the period under study. They differ from secondary sources because you do not directly link them with the secondary sources. Examples of primary or first-hand sources are these:

  • Newspaper articles from the historical period,
  • letters, diplomatic documents,
  • primary research reports and notes,
  • diaries, and
  • other primary sources produced while researching for information.

In a literature review, primary literature sources may include raw statistical data of a research, interview transcripts and newspaper articles. However, in case of any issue, dissertation writing services are always available to provide help.

Secondary sources of the literature review are the information already present on the web and other forms. It involves research that you conducted in the past. Secondary sources are descriptions published after the event with the advantage of perspective. They are analyses and assessments of original materials. Secondary sources are comments on and discussions of facts and not actual evidence. Thus, your secondary sources of literature may include:

  • Scientific Journal articles
  • Bibliographies
  • Commentaries
  • Criticisms and reviews
  • Essays
  • Magazines
  • Textbooks and websites

A tertiary source provides highlights or reduced variants of content. It provides links to primary or secondary sources. Examples of tertiary sources of the literature review are:

  • Abstracts
  • Dictionaries
  • Handbooks

How do you find sources for a literature review?

To find sources for a literature review, it is better to take information from peer-reviewed journals, academic sources, governmental websites, and textbooks.

Peer-reviewed journal articles

A peer-reviewed research study is a piece that received approval and was printed by an academic publication. Peer review journal manuscripts go through a robust and blind peer-review procedure. It signifies those two to three professionals in the field of the study examined and approved what is highlighted in the paper. So, peer-reviewed journal publications are the cornerstone of your literature review.

Academic books edited version

An edited academic book is a compilation of educational research journals produced by various writers. The pieces are unique and are not published anywhere else. The articles inside the book are also reviewed. Still, the analysis is not always blind since the contributors participate in book publishing. It is fine to use academic books as a source for your literature review but still ensure that you use peer-reviewed sources more.

Professional journal articles

You should handle professional journal articles with discretion in your literature review. It is because many papers in such journals are not peer-reviewed. A wise approach to discover if the journal is peer-reviewed or not is to read the “About Us” section. It specifies if the papers are peer-reviewed or not. You may also find out about a professional journal’s credibility by searching its name on Google and adding ‘peer reviewed’ to the search.

Data from Governmental websites

Government websites are also useful sources for literature review. It comprises of statistical data, for example, Gov.UK that gathers and distributes facts and figures about the economy, community and surroundings.

Data from Websites

You can also collect evidence from other websites as sources for your literature review. You may use the website of a professional organisation to understand how many representatives they have and other data. If you want to defend the importance of the study that intrigues you, you can use such websites as a source. But again, you should use this form of website-based data not so often and with discretion.

What are the main characteristics of sources?

We have already discussed the sources for literature review, but what are their main characteristics? Following are the main characteristics of each type of source that we use in literature reviews:

  1. Primary sources
  2. First-hand accounts
  3. Reports of the event from the present day
  4. Time’s perspective
  5. Secondary sources
  6. Interpretation of facts
  7. It is published long after an event occurred
  8. Provides feedback or criticism.
  9. Tertiary sources
  10. Reference materials
  11. Compilations of listings of primary and secondary sources, and
  12. Source-finding tools.

These are the main features of all kinds of sources for literature review.


Sources and references lend credibility to your study, and readers may rely on it to find information. The literature review is your research report’s most extensive and analytical section. Primary, secondary and tertiary sources are the three basic sources for a literature review. Primary sources are first hand sources that rely on accounts and reports from the present day. It may include raw statistical data and articles. Secondary sources are those that were published earlier as somebody’s work. They include interpretations and criticism of published works. On the other hand, tertiary sources are reduced versions of primary or secondary sources and comprise of abstracts and reference works.

Read More: What are the benefits of being knowledgeable?

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