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Interior Architecture

Recommended resources for researching interior architecture topics.

Scholarly & Popular Sources

It can be hard to determine if an article is scholarly or popular. Here are some clues that can help!


  • It is written by an expert in the field (Ph.D., etc.).
  • The institution (university or museum) where the author works is listed.
  • The article includes a bibliography.
  • The article is in a journal (usually scholarly) rather than a magazine (usually popular).
  • The journal might be described as "peer-reviewed" or "refereed."
  • Often scholarly articles have an abstract at the beginning that explains what the article is about.
  • The article is long - popular articles tend to be 1-5 pages; scholarly articles are often over 10 pages.


  • There are a lot of glossy images in color.
  • There are advertisements.
  • There is no bibliography or other way to check the author's work, or the bibliography is very short.
  • Often called a magazine rather than a journal.
  • Article is short, 1-5 pages.

If you would like more help, please contact your librarian!

Getting Started: Writing

Primary & Secondary Sources

A primary source is something that was created at the time of an event or by someone who was at an event. Examples of primary sources are:

  • letters and diaries
  • interviews and oral histories and autobiographies
  • articles written at the time of the event
  • creative works such as paintings and plays
  • photographs

A secondary source is something that analyzes or interprets a primary source. Examples include:

  • books, including biographies
  • scholarly articles
  • articles that interpret an event after it has happened

The 3-minute video below can help clarify. As you watch the video answer the following:

  • What are primary sources?
  • Write down 4 examples of primary sources:
  • Write down 3 examples of secondary sources:
  • What do secondary sources do?
  • Write down 1 example of something that can be primary or secondary:
  • What makes the difference of if that item should be called primary or secondary?

Doing Library Research

Searching databases can be tricky. Here are some tips to help you think about ways to structure your searches to find more relevant results. Contact your librarian to get additional help or to see how these tricks can be used.

Limit your search to get fewer results:

  • Put phrases in quotations. For example, search "Mona Lisa" or "Art Nouveau" using quotation marks to keep those words next to each other.
  • Use the Advanced Search feature in databases to make it easier to do multiple word searches, and to use AND/NOT operators.
  • Putting AND between words makes sure your results include all of your key words.
  • Putting NOT between words makes it so that you do not get results with words you do not want.
  • Use the filters. Most databases have filters or facets to the side of the results. Use these to narrow by date, result type, language, and subject.

Expand your search to get more results:

  • Putting an asterisk(*) in place of a word ending will get more results. For example, build* will bring up results that include build(s), building(s), builder(s).
  • Use OR in the search box for synonyms or related words. For example, church OR abbey, will get results with either of those words.
  • Spell check! Most databases do not spell check. If you are not getting enough results, or if your results seem off, make sure the search terms are spelled correctly.

Evaluating Sources

Below are some important things to consider when you are choosing which books, articles, and websites to use in your assignments.

Reliability: Is the information accurate and dependable? Do the facts match up?
Credibility: Is the primary voice an expert? What are their credentials? Primary voice could mean author or interviewee.
Validity: Where is the information coming from? It is personal opinion or research-based? Is there a bibliography or works cited section you can refer to?
Timeliness: When was it published?
Audience: Who was the article written for? Children? Scholars? Sometimes you can tell by the language - complexity and jargon suggest that it is written for a knowledgeable audience.
Bias: Does it discuss multiple sides of an issue or just one? Why was it written - for sales? to sway opinion?
Relevance: Is the article about what you are researching? How well does it address your research topic? Read the abstract or introduction and conclusion to figure this out. Remember, just because an article mentions your artist, doesn't mean it's actually about them.

Considering all of these elements can help determine if your source is a good one to use for your topic. You often don't need to read the whole item to evaluate a source. Read the abstract or introduction and conclusion to make a decision about if the resource is going to work for you. If it is, then read the whole thing.

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