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SWITCH Libraries' Information Literacy Tutorial: Unit 3
Types of Sources

This tutorial is for use by the community of library users within the SWITCH Library Consortium.

Types of Sources

Magazine image

PURPOSE: Provide GENERAL INFORMATION

CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Articles on POPULAR TOPICS & CURRENT EVENTS
  • Written for the GENERAL PUBLIC
  • SHORTER articles with no references
  • A lot of ADVERTISING & PICTURES
  • Authors are often unnamed or STAFF WRITERS
Scholarly journal image

PURPOSE: ANALYZE & REPORT on original research

CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Written by scholars in an ACADEMIC FIELD
  • Includes BIBLIOGRAPHIES pointing to other research
  • Articles contribute to a body of knowledge on a subject
  • Often includes CHARTS, GRAPHS, or TABLES
Trade journal image

PURPOSE: Report on TRENDS & ISSUES in an industry

CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Often written by PRACTITIONERS in the profession
  • ADS relate to the given industry
  • Articles cover STANDARDS from the field
  • May include CHARTS or ILLUSTRATIONS
Newspaper image

PURPOSE: Report on CURRENT NEWS in an area

CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Written by JOURNALISTS & FREELANCE authors
  • For a GENERAL AUDIENCE
  • Includes PHOTOS & ADS
  • Articles are usually SHORT
  • Available in PRINT & ONLINE
Books image

PURPOSE: Provide IN-DEPTH information on a topic

CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Puts your topic in context with related issues
  • Often written by SUBJECT EXPERTS
  • May provide HISTORICAL information
Gale encyclopedia image

PURPOSE: Give BACKGROUND information on a topic

General Encyclopedias:

  • Cover ALL TOPICS
  • Include definitions, descriptions, history & statistics
  • SHORTER articles

Subject Encyclopedias:

  • Cover topics in a SUBJECT or FIELD
  • Include definitions, descriptions, history & statistics
  • LONGER articles & BIBLIOGRAPHIES

TOPCAT logo

PURPOSE: Includes ITEMS owned by a library

CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Is searchable ONLINE
  • Used to find what a library has on a subject
  • Indicates WHERE an item is in the library
Database search image

PURPOSE: Has online journal & news articles

CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Contains a CITATION
  • Includes an ABSTRACT and/or FULL TEXT
  • Used to find articles on a specific TOPIC

One Perfect Source?

Credible Sources

Using Sources in Writing

Using sources in writing image

Good writing doesn't happen by accident. Writing well is a process that involves gathering information, organizing your thoughts, and (of course) writing.

Looking for more information? The Excelsior Online Writing Lab provides information on the writing process and useful tips that will help you become a better writer.

Test Your Knowledge

Quiz image

Please review the information on this page before attempting the quiz. After completing the quiz, a score will be sent to your email address. Click here to take the Types of Sources Quiz.

Questions?

Ask a librarian logo
Questions? Please contact your home library and ask to speak with a librarian.

Attribution

"One Perfect Source?", North Carolina State University Libraries: https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/

"Evaluating Sources for Credibility", North Carolina State University Libraries: https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/

"Wise Owl" image: https://pixabay.com/vectors/owl-bird-book-wise-nature-47526/

"The Research Writing Process", Excelsior Online Writing Lab: https://owl.excelsior.edu/research/research-process/research-process-steps/