Information Types

Using Different Types of Sources

Use different information resources to find different kinds of information.

Reference book articles, or academic encyclopedias, are a great place to start. Go to reference for background knowledge, theoretical terms, an overview of the history of a subject or issues, key players - and leads to more information.

example of sources 
Reference book articles, or academic encyclopedias, are a great place to start.
Read reference for:
  • background knowledge
  • theoretical terms
  • an overview of the history of a subject or issues
  • key players
  • leads to more information.
image of an encyclopedia book cover
Read books, book chapters, and essays in anthologies for:
  • in-depth analysis
  • history
  • opinion
  • theory
  • multiple perspectives
image of a book
Read newspaper articles for:
  • a daily account of events and issues on a local, regional, national or international scale
  • analysis of current issues
  • editorial and opinion pieces
  • business, environment and science news
image of newspapers
Read magazine articles for:
  • more in-depth discussion of current events and issues in the news
  • longer articles written for an interested audience in lay-person language on technology, health, science, business and more
  • illustrations: charts, pictures and graphs
magazine cover - bloomberg business week
View and listen to multimedia for:
  • documentaries on current science, engineering and business topics
  • informed discussion and analysis
  • case studies & personal accounts
  • background information
image of a video online
Read trade articles to learn about:
  • news briefs or overviews of current research and tools
  • current trends and updates in the profession
  • professional terminology
  • opinion on governmental policy, current issues, and more
  • professional development
  • to find leads to more information on your subject
professional journal: security management
Read scholarly articles and books to learn about:
  • current research
  • in-depth analysis
  • metareviews of the literature
  • professional terminology
  • find data, statistics, charts, and other factual information
  • to get a sense of the scope of the scholarly conversation on your subject
  • to find leads to more information on your subject
image of Chemical Engineering Journal cover

Information Timeline

Image of information timeline

Click on image to enlarge (opens in new tab)

Source: "Information Timeline" by QCCLibrary, educational use

Evaluate ALL your sources

Evaluate ALL Your Sources

Do they pass the CRAP Test?
If not, find better sources!
  • How recent is the information? If a website, how recently has it been updated?
  • Is it current enough for your topic?
  • Does the information about your topic change rapidly or frequently?
  • Is older, historical information important for your topic?
  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Does the source provide enough depth to be useful for what you need?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too easy or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before selecting this one?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research project?
Authority / Accuracy
  • Does the author/creator have academic or experiential knowledge?
  • Does the person being interviewed have academic or first-hand (primary) knowledge?
  • Is the information supported by evidence? Can you verify this information?
  • Does the source cite outside information?
  • Is the information reviewed or refereed?
  • Is the publisher/website well-known and credible? Does the URL reveal anything? (.com, .org, .net)
  • Are there obvious errors or typos?
Purpose / Point of View​
  • What is the purpose of the source – To inform? Persuade? Sell something? 
  • Does the author/organization/website have a known bias?
  • Is content of the resource primarily opinion? Is it balanced?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Are there advertisements?