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Organization of Materials Print Page

Classification of Resources

Check out this video on "Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Resources" from the Beam Library at Oklahoma Christian University.

PRIMARY: materials represent an original work (text, painting, or item) and/or document an event at its occurence (photograph, diary entry, or letter).

SECONDARY: sources are analyses of, commentary on, critiques about, or responses to Primary Sources. Reputable secondary materials have been well-vetted via the peer-reviewed process.

TERTIARY: items are often compilations of excerpts from Secondary Sources and can be used to identify themes or threads pertaning to concepts in a discipline. While subject-specific encyclopedias and dictionaries are ideal for supplemental information about a topic, these types of tertiary sources should only be consulted for initial research and not for citation.


Using Tertiary Sources


  • Overview   -   Gain a broad understanding of your topic
  • Definitions - Be an informed reader
  • Notable Names - Know the major players
  • Dates & Events - Contextualize your topic
  • Bibliographies - Fish those citations!

 General Encyclopedias


Types of Periodicals

Scholarly Journals, magazines, newspapers, and trade publications: what's the difference?

Check out this video on "Magazines and Scholarly Journals" from the University of Arkansas Libraries.

POPULAR SOURCES: Popular sources contain articles on topics of popular interest written in a non-scholarly style, while journals contain articles of original research and commentary including footnotes and works cited. Avoid citing popular magazine articles in your work. If a magazine article contains compelling information, look for references in the article and then locate that reference source for use in your assignment.

TRADE PUBLICATIONS: Trade journals are aimed at readers who operate within a specific industry. Some journals are accessable online for free, and others require a subscription. The EKS Library provides access to databases that contain articles from an array of trade publicaitons.

SCHOLARLY JOURNALS: are peer-reviewed or refereed journals. Prior to publication, articles undergo a critical review process by experts / referees on the subject who evaluate the quality of the research. 


Specialized Tertiary Sources: Print

Cover Art
Encyclopedia of Sports Science and Medicine - John Zumerchik
Call Number: Reference GV558.E53 1997 v.1
ISBN: 0028646657
Publication Date: 1997-04-01

Cover Art
Sports Culture - Ellis Cashmore
Call Number: Reference GV706.5 .C383 2002
ISBN: 0415181690
Publication Date: 2000-11-30


Specialized Tertiary Sources: Electronic

Cover Art
Encyclopedia of Sport and Exercise Psychology - Robert C. Eklund (Editor); Gershon Tenenbaum (Editor)
ISBN: 9781452203836
Publication Date: 2014-01-21
Click the link to access online.

Cover Art
Dictionary of Sport and Exercise Science - A. and C. Black Publishers Staff
ISBN: 9780713677850
Publication Date: 2006-12-01
Click the link to access online.


Library of Congress Organization

Most academic libraries use the Library of Congress system. The system is fairly easy to understand if you know how to read it.

Books are assigned a main subject, and then divided into sub-subjects as needed.

Library of COngress Main Subject Headings

Items are then divided into sub-headings:

LOC subject Heading D with sub-headings

Finally books are further divided into even more specific subject headings:

LOD numerical subject headings

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