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CNX 100 - Information Literacy Guide

Why Source Types Matter

Different types of sources have different uses and include different perspectives. You need to know what type of source you are looking at to determine the kind of evidence that will be included in the source. 

Video from Utah State University Libraries. 

Types of Sources

  • Source Type





    Where to Find

    Social Media



    Immediacy.  Breaks the story. Unedited.  Information may be incomplete, false, or biased Anyone Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok
    Newspapers Hours, Day Excellent for current information, useful for local information. Useful for historical research. Current events.  Does not use technical language. Professional Journalists Databases: Newspaper Source, U.S. Major Dailies,  Nexis Uni



    An overview of your topic, as well as information on popular culture and current events. Colorful, entertaining.   Contain ads. may be found on news stands. Usually cover current topics. Professional Journalists


    Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete

    Conference Proceedings



    Research in progress. Scholarly articles written by the same authors may be published at a later date.  Academic or field-specific terminology used.  Presents new research. Specialists in the Field, Scholars Google Scholar, Professional Association's Websites
    Scholarly Journal Articles



    Presentation of the latest research in a field. Typically this includes a deep dive into a particular aspect of a topic.  Written in technical discipline-specific. Is rarely shorter than 10 pages.  Includes data, tables, charts, a bibliography, and when presenting research, an introduction, methods section, results, discussion, and conclusions. Specialists in the Field, Scholars Start with Academic Search Complete, Explore other databases by subject
    Books Year/s Overview of topic, in-depth coverage of the topic.  Check the book's index and table of contents to locate information relevant to your topic. Lengthy; may be an in-depth fully developed argument, or may be an edited collection of authored articles.  May be published by a general publisher (HarperCollins) or by an academic press (in which case they would be called a monograph). Specialists, Journalists, Scholars From OWU and the Ohio Five in Consort, From across Ohio in OhioLINK, Nationwide through Interlibrary loan 
    Encyclopedias or Reference Sources Years Topic ideas, an overview of the topic, background information, quick facts.  Check their bibliographies to identify additional core sources of information. Articles are often compilations from many contributors. Authoritative and concise information sources.  They provide comprehensive background information on a topic. Specialists, Scholars Wikipedia, Databases: CredoGale  Ebooks,  Oxford Research Encylcopedias 
    Government Documents Year/s Statistics, an overview of the topic, quick facts, in-depth analysis, and research reports. Government documents may be found in many forms:  they are books, pamphlets, or other materials published by a federal, state, or local government agency.  Government Agency Staff, Researchers, Congressional Publications

    Seconds, Minutes,



    Topic ideas, an overview of topic, opinions, information from organizations and commercial businesses. Wide variety of source types. Offers many perspectives. Evaluate sources carefully as many are not  fact-checked. Anyone Google

    Inspired by Lebanon Vally College's FYE 112 Guide