Before you begin actively researching your topic, you will need to think about the types of sources that are available. Information comes to us from many sources - books, magazines, journals, newspapers, radio, television, websites, multimedia sources, etc... The type(s) of information you need will depend on the nature of your potential topic.
Understanding source types helps you determine what you need for your research. Below is a list of commonly used resources with brief descriptions.
Contain articles about current events usually published daily. Since there is at least one in every city, newspapers are great sources for local information. Newspapers also provide primary reporting.
Popular and Trade Magazines
A collection of articles and images about a variety of popular topics and current events. Articles are written by journalists for the general population.
A collection of articles written by scholars or experts in the field. Scholarly articles, also called academic articles, can be found using databases and cover a wide range of topics and can either be original research or analysis of an issue or topic.
Provide in-depth coverage of a subject. Often include historical or contextual information regarding a topic.
Materials such as dictionaries, encyclopedias and handbooks are considered reference materials. Reference materials can be found both in print and online.
Websites (Online Web)
Websites provide access to information of all kinds. Virtually all information from a search engine (such as Google) comes from a website. While most publication, material, and format types are accessible online, the quality, coverage, and purpose of these sources will vary significantly. One of the benefits to the online web is its ability to disseminate information on a topic in a short about of time. There can very very valuable information because of the wide rage of sources, however, extra time needs to be taken to evaluate the credibility and reliability of the information.
*Adapted from Brookens Library from the University of Illinois Springfield.
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