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PHYS405/406 - Introduction to Astronomy: Term Paper Research Guide (UNH - Durham)

Defining Types of Sources

Knowing what type of material you're looking for will be key in your research.  To help you determine which sources are best for your research at the moment, please consider the following definitions.

Primary Source - original material/research.  Typically, this material represents the first formal appearance of results.

             EXAMPLES: research articles in journals or conference proceedings; research reports; original books or treatises

Secondary Source -  once-removed from primary sources.  Typically, this material summarizes and interprets the results presented in primary materials.  Secondary sources may provide examples of results or evidence, but their main role is to bring together and discuss evidence presented in primary sources.

             EXAMPLES: textbooks, magazine articles, review articles in journals, encyclopedias

Tertiary Source - material that collects and distills information from primary and secondary sources.

             EXAMPLES: index/abstract databases, guidebooks, collections of data, chronologies, directories

While the research you'll conduct later in your academic career will require you to rely on primary source material, for the purposes of this assignment, you'll find that the best sources for you to use are technically considered to be secondary sources.  THIS IS OK!!! The best way to get them is to utilize databases, or secondary source books, through the UNH Library Catalog. However, you still can't cite tertiary sources!.

Primary Sources

For the most part, primary and secondary sources in the sciences exist in article form.  Books are great, and we've got lots of those to help you out, but it's a lot less reading to find a handful of great articles.  There are multiple ways of going about the task of finding these sources, but the best way is to use DATABASES.  UNH subscribes to many databases, so it's really just a matter of selecting one or two to work with. For this particular research paper, your best first database to try is called Ebscohost.

You can also use online journals to which UNH subscribes.  It's just a matter of figuring out which journals (out of the thousands we subscribe to) are the right fit for the level of research you're doing.  You'll want to use online journals like Astronomy or Sky & Telescope (though these specific magazines are primarily full of secondary sources).

Accessing Full Text Online Journals

Whether you need help with accessing the full text of articles through any of our online journals, or help with accessing full text of articles through any of our databases, use the following guides:

Trouble with Access?

Full text will only display for the dates of coverage listed for each journal.  Be sure, when attempting to view full text online material, that the date of your citation is included in the full text access for the journal in question.  If you think you should have been able to view full text, but were unable, please contact us.

In your message, include your citation and which online service (online journal vs. database) you were attempting to gain access through.  Also include if you were on campus or off, and if you were on a university computer or your own.  As much information as possible is helpful.

Off Campus Access Instructions

It is not necessary to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) in order to use library resources from off-campus, but if you do, please first visit:


Other Astronomy-related Databases via UNH

Other Select Electronic Resources