Skip to Main Content Saint Mary's Libraries


This guide is designed for students enrolled in the MAT program at Saint Mary's.

Use this guide to get in touch with the research tools associated with your field.

If you have questions, please reach out to your liaison librarian, stop by the reference desk, or utilize our 24/7 chat.

Types of Sources

  • Primary Source: In educational research these sources most often take the form of empirical studies in which the creator was a direct witness or in some other way directly involved with the research. Look for the words like STUDY and/or METHOD in the article.
  • Secondary Source:  Description or interpretation of  primary sources, other secondary sources, or some combination of the two.
  • Theoretical Article: A source that proposes a way of thinking about how a phenomenon operates and why it operates as it does. Example:  Piaget’s description of his Stages of Development.

Types of Research

  • Literature Review: This is a review of scholarly literature. It involves the process of reading, analyzing, and evaluating scholarly articles on a topic and is synthesized through the writer’s lens.
  • Meta-analysis: This is a method of piling many studies on a topic together and then using statistics to synthesize the results of the studies.
  • Quantitative research:  Quantitative methods emphasize objective measurements and the statistical, mathematical, or numerical analysis of data collected through polls, questionnaires, and surveys, or by manipulating pre-existing statistical data using computational techniques. Quantitative research focuses on gathering numerical data and generalizing it across groups of people or to explain a particular phenomenon. One example of this type of empirical research is the experimental study that explores the relationship between two or more variables.
  • Qualitative research: Descriptive studies that explore the quality of relationships or situations fit into this category of empirical research. In this world, investigators may care about HOW things occur and the perspectives of the subjects they study. Data collected is mainly in the form of words or pictures and seldom involves numbers.  Ethnographic research and case studies are two examples.
  • Anecdotal Evidence: Evidence, which may be true and verifiable, but should be sparingly used because of the dangers of generalizing from an insufficient amount of evidence. This type of article has NOT been through a peer-reviewed process.