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Research Basics: Types of Sources

Types of Research Sources

Before starting your research, it's important to understand the types of information sources available. The video below provides a broad overview of the information you can find in sources such as books, encyclopedias, almanacs, periodicals, electronic resources and more.

Consider the Purpose of Your Sources

Consider the types of evidence needed to answer your research question or make your argument. Are certain types of sources recommended or required? Some instructors require you to use only scholarly peer-reviewed journals, primary sources, newspapers, or books from the library, while others might leave things more open-ended.

If you need: Try using:
Expert evidence Scholarly articles, books, and statistical data
Public or individual opinion on an issue Newspapers, magazines, and websites
Basic facts about an event Newspapers, books, encyclopedia (for older and well-known events)
Eye-witness accounts Newspapers, primary source books, web-based collections of primary sources
A general overview of a topic Books or encyclopedias
Information about a very recent topic Websites, newspapers, and magazines
Local information Newspapers, websites, and books
Information from professionals working in the field Professional/trade journals
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