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Research 101: Source Types

Information on the research process.

Source Types & Information Evaluation

Identifying the type of source you are using can help in evaluating the source.

With any research project you should consult and compare multiple sources. One reason to do this is to compare the information you find. Another reason is to overcome the shortcomings of a source by using another source type. For example, you may find a newspaper article which provides relevant and timely facts on your topic. However, the newspaper article is short and offers limited information and no analysis. Using a more in-depth source like a book or journal article will help you balance your research.

Publication Timeline

Source types differ in their publication schedules and this affects their currency and content. For research topics that require current information you will want to consult source types with shorter publication schedules. If you need information sources that offer more comprehensive coverage, research, or in-depth analysis look for source types with longer publication schedules.

Publication Time Line

Source Type

Newspapers, Websites


Trade Journals & Scholarly Journals


Reference Books

Publication Schedule

Immediate to one week

Week or more

Month or more

Year or more

Years later

The Information Timeline - Video

ECU Joyner

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