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Start Your Research: Evaluate Information

Not sure how to find academic sources for your classes? This guide will provide ample resources to help you get started!
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Types of Information Sources

Evaluate Information

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)

Current information

Short, easy to understand articles

Photographs and illustrations

Authors not usually experts

Sources 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 understand

May 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 information

Bias (dependent on author, publisher, etc)
Websites Anyone; expertise or credibility cannot be assured General audience


Government information

Company information

Alternate points of view

Credibility and accuracy cannot be assured

Bias (dependent on author, publisher, etc)

Sources not always cited


Activity: Engage with Sources

Activity: Engage with Sources

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.

What type of source are you looking at? Use the Information Sources handout to help you decide.
What aspects of this source should/would you consider in deciding whether to use this source in your own research?



  • Source publisher. What's their mission or purpose?
  • Source author. Who are they, and what authority do they have on this topic?
  • Sources referenced. Where do they lead? How easy is it to find citations?

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