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Lund University

Writing and sources

A guide on writing and the use of sources intended for students at the department of Biologi and CEC.

Books 

There are many different types of books, ranging from fiction to fact books. In this section, the most frequently used book types in Science are presented. Some of these book types are scientific, whereas others are not. Advice on how to determine whether a source is scientific can be found in the section Evaluating scientific sources.

Textbook

Textbooks are the standard work for the study of a particular subject. They typically offer an extensive overview of a broader subject, but there are also more advanced textbooks on specialized subjects. However, you should remember that textbooks contain well established knowledge, and the latest findings are usually not included. Textbooks are based on scientific facts from peer-reviewed sources, but they are secondary sources and do not contain any original research.

Edited volume or collection

Edited volumes or collections are books dealing with one specific topic in a comprehensive and scientific way. The edited volumes or collections consist of chapters written by different authors, who are all experts in their respective fields, presenting different viewpoints and experiences on a common theme. The work of the authors is co-ordinated and made into a cohesive story by an editor. When citing edited books, the chapter is the entity you use as a source and that you refer to. Sometimes these books undergo a peer review process similar to the one for scientific articles. In other cases, the book is reviewed by the editors of the book, who may and may not be an expert on the subject in question.

Research monograph

In some disciplines and subjects, researchers publish their original research in books called research monographs instead of as articles in scientific journals. These specialist books contain original and previously unpublished research results and are thus primary source. They typically cover a single subject and are written by one author. Sometimes these books undergo a peer review process similar to the one for scientific articles. In other cases, the book is reviewed by an editors, who may and may not be an expert on the subject in question.

Encyclopedias 

Encyclopedias are reference works containing entries with summaries of knowledge, either covering topics in all fields or, in some cases, one particular subject. The entries are usually arranged in alphabetical order and sometimes also according to thematic categories. An encyclopedia is a secondary source and should therefor generally not be used as a reference.