For an assignment, you may be required to use (or not use) certain types of sources. Source types all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Use the chart below to learn about different types of sources and the information they contain.
|Source||Author||Audience||Best For||Watch for/Consider|
|Journalists, Columnists||General audience||
Daily local, national, and international news, events, and editorial coverage
Statistics and photojournalism
Record of events, and quotes from experts, officials, and witnesses
Authors not typically experts
If a story is breaking, corrections to initial report likely
Editorial bias of the publication
|Magazines||Columnists, freelance writers; little or no information about the authors provided||General audience, or those with a specific recreational interests (sports, fashion, science, etc)||
Short, easy to understand articles
Photographs and illustrations
Authors not usually expertsSources not always cited
|Scholarly/Academic Journals||A professional or expert in the field; usually has an advanced degree in the field||Scholars, researchers, professionals, and university students in the field; audience may have a broad knowledge or understanding of the specialized language||
In-depth research on a topic
Focused, peer-reviewed articles written by experts
Data, charts, and graphs
Bibliographies of other sources
Terminology or data may be difficult to understandMay be 10-40 pages long
|Books||Researcher or professional in the field; look for books published by university or scholarly presses||Varies (general audience through scholar)||
Comprehensive overview of a topic
Background and historical context
Bibliographies of other source
Dated informationBias (dependent on author, publisher, etc)
|Websites||Anyone; expertise or credibility cannot be assured||General audience||
Alternate points of view
Credibility and accuracy cannot be assured
Bias (dependent on author, publisher, etc)
Sources not always cited
All sources you find when engaging in research are part of an ongoing conversation about a particular topic. It's your job as a writer and researcher to evaluate your sources to determine their credibility and authority, and their contribution to the broader conversation.
"What is the impact of vaping on public health in the United States?"
Consider these questions as you examine the sources below.