As traditional scholarship moves into a digital environment, and new formats of dissemination are created: blogs, wikis, podcasts, tweets, etc. – the onus is on the researcher to identify appropriate formats and determine authority in context of their research needs.
Whether scholarly or non-scholarly, sources may be needed to serve different purposes in you research. For example:
However, when seeking to support your argumentation within a discourse community such as Translation Studies, authoritative (recognized, respected, influential) voices should be identified and the formal method of academic dissemination and assimilation utilized.
An article written for publication in a scholarly journal may undergo rigorous evaluation through a peer review process. Manuscripts (unpublished paper/thesis) are evaluated by specialists/scholars in the the same field as the author. They assess the quality of the scholarship, reliability of findings and relevance to the field. Not all academic journals are peer reviewed and there are several ways to determine this:
Some journals are considered to have more “impact” in their discipline than others. Impact figures are generally based on the number of citations that articles in a journal receive, in a given period of time. Tools that help identify peer-reviewed journals and if available - their impact, include:
These are usually reviewed by the author's peers, before being accepted for publication by reputable university or academic trade publishers. Examples of reputable publishers in translation studies include: Benjamins, Rodopi, St Jerome (now part of Routledge/Taylor & Francis) and Routledge.
Published books may be reviewed in a foreword in the book itself or in academic journals and book review sources, by scholars in the field. These reviews can be used to assess how the book has been received in its discourse community. Do not rely on a publisher's blurb to evaluate a book.
Tertiary academic resources, like textbooks, manuals and encyclopaedias, are generally reviewed by curriculum specialists or a publisher’s editorial board before publication. When published, these books are reviewed in a discipline’s core journals or general book review sources. Books (specifically textbooks) that have more than one edition, may indicate their importance to a subject area.
Authors may also share their knowledge in non-academic environment through interviews, essays, blogs and presentations. These formats generally do not go through a peer review process and should be evaluated in terms of their purpose to your research.
Primary sources generally present original thinking, represent or report an event, a discovery or new information. Journal articles, conference proceedings, theses & dissertations fall within this description. However, any source can be classified as primary if it serves as an exhibit or as evidence of a phenomenon in a piece of research or commentary.
Secondary sources may interpret, critique, collate and synthesize the theories and research presented in primary sources. Examples of academic texts that may fall within this category include books, journal articles, reviews and editorials that critique or review primary sources.
Tertiary sources provide an overview or summary of a subject, and draw from both primary and secondary sources. The information is represented as factual, and is usually descriptive rather than analytical. Tertiary sources include textbooks, manuals, and reference sources, encyclopaedias and dictionaries. Other tertiary sources include indexing tools such as bibliographies, research databases, indexes & abstracts, and search engines.