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Content Research Term

Content research

Content research is the practice of seeking, finding, and processing information from a variety of places. When we talk about content research, we often focus on the activity of researching content for texts or artifacts that we will be writing, including evaluating all information, citing and attributing information ethically, and recognizing all research as someone’s writing for a particular writing situation.


Sources are the items that you find and rely on when you are doing writing, genre, and content research. Sources might be texts you and others have created, your own memories and experiences with writing and particular genres, and academic journal articles or books you find in library databases and other places online.

Citing research

Citing research is the practice of showing, somewhere within the body of a text we’re producing, that we took words, ideas, figures, images, or any other content from a source. When we cite research, we make visible what information we have borrowed and who or what we have borrowed it from, so that others can find our researched sources, too.

Attributing information

Attributing information refers to the practice of explicitly mentioning the people and contexts around the information you are including in a text you’re producing. When we attribute information, we make visible the situations surrounding knowledge production that is often not required in a citation, including additional information about people (their profession, what they research), publications (in what fields), chronology (when they did the research, before or after what), etc.

Research credibility

Research credibility refers to a research source’s trustworthiness and believability. Often, when we talk about research credibility, we mean establishing the researcher’s or writer’s expertise, reputation, and positionality; noticing the sources and citations they have relied on; checking that information is up-to-date; and describing the biases we see in the source, author, and place of publication.

Primary sources

Primary sources refer to original objects or documents that contain “raw” material or first-hand information. When we talk about primary sources, we might be referring to artifacts that you or others have created yourselves, such as social media posts, journals or diaries, text messages, websites, speeches, videos, lists, and so on.

Secondary sources

Secondary sources refer to sources that interpret, comment on, or discuss primary sources. When we talk about secondary sources, we might be referring to texts that people have written about other texts, including research books, scholarly journal articles, media reviews, and so on.

Tertiary sources

Tertiary sources refer to a collection of primary and secondary sources that provide both first-hand information and discussion of that information. When we talk about tertiary sources, we might be referring to artifacts like bibliographies, encyclopedias, Wikipedia pages, and so on.

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