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International Students Guide

This is a guide to provide Information and Resources for ODU International students.

Resource Types

Primary resources aren't just old books! Any original research is considered to be primary, so many of the peer-reviewed articles that you find in our databases are considered to be primary.


Primary Sources are created during the time of study.

Secondary Sources interpret & analyze Primary Sources.


Primary sources are materials in a variety of formats, created at the time under study, that serve as original evidence documenting a time period, an event, people, idea or work. 

Examples of primary sources:

  • Autobiographies and memoirs
  • Diaries, personal letters, and correspondence
  • Interviews, surveys, and fieldwork
  • Internet communications on email, blogs, listservs, and newsgroups
  • Photographs, drawings, and posters
  • Works of art and literature
  • Books, magazine and newspaper articles and ads published at the time
  • Public opinion polls
  • Speeches and oral histories
  • Original documents (birth certificates, property deeds, trial transcripts)
  • Research data, such as census statistics
  • Official and unofficial records of organizations and government agencies
  • Artifacts of all kinds, such as tools, coins, clothing, furniture, etc.
  • Audio recordings, DVDs, and video recordings
  • Government documents (reports, bills, proclamations, hearings, etc.)
  • Patents
  • Technical reports
  • Scientific journal articles reporting experimental research results

Primary sources can be found in analog, digitized, and born-digital forms.


Secondary Sources are works synthesizing and/or commenting on primary and/or other secondary sources. Secondary sources, which are often works of scholarship, are differentiated from primary sources by the element of critical synthesis, analysis or commentary.

Examples of Secondary Sources:

  • Bibliographies
  • Biographical works
  • Reference books, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, and atlases
  • Articles from magazines, journals, and newspapers after the event
  • Literature reviews and review articles (e.g., movie reviews, book reviews)
  • History books and other popular or scholarly books
  • Works of criticism and interpretation
  • Commentaries and treatises
  • Textbooks
  • Indexes and abstracts


Books can be used for lots of things!

  • Basic knowledge
  • Historical Info
  • How To
  • In-Depth Info
  • Edited Books (Scholarly chapters written by different people on similar topics)
  • Bibliographies
  • Practical Purposes
  • Visuals
  • & More!

Our print books are located at Perry Library, the Music Library, and Hofheimer Art Library. We also have access to thousands of electronic books! To access books, start with Monarch OneSearch on the library homepage, or the search box below. Type in your topic, then limit your results by Resource Type to Books.

Watch this One Minute Video to learn more about finding books in Monarch OneSearch!

Reference resources are more than just old encyclopedias! Reference resources can be online, or in print, and are about more than just finding general information. Reference materials can be a great place to find in-depth historical information about a topic, definitions, and more. The ODU Libraries provides access to many subject specific reference resources.

Dictionaries and thesauri can help you understand terms related to your subject.

There are both general dictionaries and specialized dictionaries is different subject areas.

General encyclopedias, contain a broad overview of many topics. Encyclopedias also help to identify terms, and encyclopedia articles generally end with a short bibliography of other sources for you to locate.

In addition to general encyclopedias, which cover all fields of knowledge, the reference collection contains subject-specific encyclopedias and dictionaries, such as encyclopedias of religion and medical dictionaries.


To find reference resources in your research area, start with Monarch OneSearch, type in your topic, and then type in the type of resource your need. For example, you could try: dance AND encyclopedia (yes, we have one of those!)

Newspaper: A publication containing information about varied topics that are pertinent to general information, a geographic area, or a specific subject matter (i.e. business, culture, education). Often published daily or weekly and that contains news, articles of opinion, features, and advertising.

The ODU Libraries provides access to several news databases, popular newspapers and historical newspapers


Do you need an image, film clip, or audio for an assignment? You can find everything you need at ODU Libraries. By using our Images, Audio & Video Guide, you find:

  • Streaming Video
  • News Clips
  • Images
  • Music
  • Help with embedding into presentations
  • Help with citation
  • & More!
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