ENGL 101 English Composition 1

Which Source of Info Should You Choose?

The Information Timeline

There are many type of sources you can get your info from, so....which source should you use?

It depends...

  • are you looking for info on a general theme?  Consider the "Your Info Need" in the chart below  
    • It is generally helpful to start with Reference Sources first, then choose other source types based on the level of info most helpful to you
  • are you looking for info on a specific event in time?  Consider the "Timeline" in the chart below

(Click on image to enlarge)

Image of a table showing the breakdown of the information timeline, outlined also in the text below the image.

As shown in the image above, information is created, recorded, and distributed various different mediums at different times. 

Information Timeline 

The event occurs and…

  • Within minutes or hours - you can find info on Social media platforms – such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, etc.

    • Good for: short personal reactions, opinion, announcements

  • Within hours, a day – you can find info in Newspapers, news sites, TV, Radio – such as cnn.com, BBC radio, New York Times, etc.

    • Good for: current or local info, facts, viewpoints, breaking news

  • Within a week to a month – you can find info in Magazines or Trade journals – such as Time, People Magazine, Wired, Education Week, etc.

    • Good for: summaries of info, some analysis for general public or specific profession

  • Within 6 to 8 months later and continuing – you can find info in Peer-Reviewed scholarly journals­ - such as like Nature, Journal of American Medical Association, etc.

    • Good for:  deep analysis of specific topics in academic research

  • Within 1 year later and continuing – you can find info in Books and Films – such as non-fiction, biographies, documentaries, etc.

    • Good for: thorough, comparative coverage of a topic history, complexity

  • Within 2 years later and continuing – you can find info in Reference Sources – such as encyclopedias, textbooks, atlases, manuals, etc.

    • Good for: broad overviews, key issues, statistics, topic specialized vocabulary

Image source: all images here created by GRC librarians

Search is Strategic

Search is Strategic!

Different info is created for different purposes and audiences.

When you research consider the following:
  • What kind of information type it is
  • Who the intended audience is
  • What the purpose of the info is
  • What kinds of evidence it provides
  • What point of view it presents

Comparing the sources

Compare: a Newspaper vs Scholarly article on the same subject

Let's look at the topic of gender roles and stay at home parenting

Compare the two following articles: 

Compare 3 Sources on Veganism and Identity

Compare the following three sources on the shared topic of Veganism and Identity: