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REA 1105 (Earle): Types of Resources

A guide to help students learn about research sources in Professor Earle's College Reading Course at the Osceola Campus

Evaluating Sources

Think about the "ABCs" of research as you locate secondary sources to use in your paper...


Authority: Who is the author? Is this person qualified to write about the topic? While your author does not necessarily have to be an expert, he should have some experience or exposure to the topic he is writing about.

Accuracy: Is the information believable? Can you find similar information from other sources? If the information seems farfetched and is not presented in other sources on the topic, it may not be true.

Bias: Does the author present different perspectives, or is it one-sided? Is the information from an organization that might harbor political, religious, or other biases? Your argument should show not only your perspective, but evidence to disprove the opposite side of the argument.

Currency: When was the information written? Consider the date that your source was published - have there been major advances or recent key events since it was written? Your sources should contain the most current facts as possible. Remember that books can take years to publish, journal articles could take months, and newspaper articles are published almost immediately.

By considering these questions during the research process, you should be able to find reliable and accurate sources. Remember that many of the articles found through the library's databases have been peer-reviewed, which means they have already been evaluated for accuracy by experts in that field of study.

Types of Resources

Each tab represents a different type of resource you may want to use in your research. Visit each tab to learn the good and bad of each source, and what kind of information you can find in each type.

Books or eBooks are a great first step in the research process. They often contain a general overview of a topic, background information, and historical perspective. 

Positives Negatives
  • Books are usually long which allows the author to cover the topic in depth
  • Books go through an editing process
  • Information can't be revised and can become outdated quickly
  • Rise of self-publishing - Not all books are authored by experts


Example of a book record from the library catalog

Example of an eBook record from the library catalog

There are a few different kinds of periodicals, all with their own purpose and benefits...

Scholarly Journal Articles

Positives Negatives
  • Written by content area experts
  • Always contain citations
  • Some are peer-reviewed
  • Research-oriented articles are considered primary sources
  • Often full of technical language and difficult to understand
  • Can be very specific
  • Sometimes focused on a specific country, population, time frame, etc.
  • The peer-review process can take time

Example of a scholarly journal article from a database

Trade Publications

Positives Negatives
  • Offer brief summaries of long research articles
  • Usually written by subject matter experts
  • Usuallly geared toward professionals and can sometimes be difficult to understand

Example of a trade publication article from a database


Positives Negatives
  • Can be published quickly after a news event
  • Provides access to international perspectives
  • Contains examples of specific events and case studies
  • Not all newspaper articles are evidence-based
  • Many articles are written during an event, without hindsight
  • Authors are usually journalists, not experts
  • Newspapers can be owned by politically biased companies

Example of a newspaper article from a database


Positives Negatives
  • Written for the average person to read and understand
  • Can provide a library source on less scholarly topics
  • Usually don't cover scholarly topics
  • Are not always research-based
  • Citations are not always included
  • Authors may be journalists, not experts

Example of a popular magazine article from a database


Positives Negatives
  • Information can be created and shared immediately
  • Information can be updated as events or statistics change
  • Easy access to information from the government or trustworthy organizations
  • Anyone can create a web site
  • Information and credentials can easily be faked
  • Many sites report satirical news
  • Needs to be thoroughly evaluated

Example of a credible web site

Example of an untrustworthy web site

Periodicals - What's the Difference?

Periodicals: What's the difference between them?