What types of sources do I need?

The types of sources you need often depends on your topic and the requirements of your assignment. Below are some of the different types of sources you may need in your research: 

  • Scholarly/ peer-reviewed/ refereed/ academic articles: These articles are written by scholars or experts in the field and reviewed by peers who are experts in the same area. Authors often describe original research studies they've conducted and discuss their findings. In many databases, you can limit your search to scholarly, peer-reviewed or refereed journals. Learn more about these types of articles or check out the Library's FAQ on finding scholarly / peer-reviewed articles.   
  • Professional/trade articles: Written by experts, professionals in the field, or staff writers and reviewed by an editor for style and content. The articles often do not contain reference lists. Examples include School Library Journal, Harvard Business Review, Engineering and Mining Journal, and American Biology Teacher. These articles can be found in our library databases.   
  • Articles from popular magazines: Written for a general audience rather than scholars. Examples include The New YorkerPeople, and Rolling Stone. These articles can be found in our library databases.   
  • Primary sources: An item that was created during the period studied that documents in some way what is being studied. Examples include newspaper accounts, government documents, letters, diaries, autobiographies, speeches, oral histories, museum artifacts, and photographs. Primary sources can be found in many different places, including in books (when a photograph or speech is reprinted, for example), on the web from libraries, museums, or other organizations that have digitized primary source content, and in some of our library databases. Learn more here.   
  • Secondary sources: A source that is one step removed from an event and analyzes primary sources. Examples include a book about World War II that is based on records from the time, or a journal article about Chinese immigrants. Most books and articles are secondary sources. 

What types of evidence will you need to answer your research question or make your case? This chart makes suggestions for specific types of resources for your research:

If you need Find
 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 and books
 Eye-witness accounts  Newspapers, primary source books, and web-based collections of primary sources   
 General overview of a topic  Books or encyclopedias
 Information about a current topic  Websites, newspapers, and magazines
 Local information  Newspapers, websites, and books
 Information from professionals working in the field    Professional, trade journals



  • Last Updated Jan 27, 2023
  • Views 6
  • Answered By Amanda

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