Skip to main content

Choosing & Identifying the Best Source Types for Your Research

Learn about all the different source types and when they are appropriate and helpful to you in the research process: encyclopedias, Wikipedia, books, scholarly articles, popular articles and magazines, trade magazines, news, and websites!

Why is this important?

We live in an information society. We constantly need to evaluate the sea of information with which we are inundated every moment in order to determine its truth, value and relevance to our lives.

Information Literacy (IL) is an important skill, not just now, but throughout your life.

Section D.1. of the Rider University Undergraduate Student Learning Objective and Competencies (a.k.a TFLO) states that students will:

Articulate a research question/problem/issue and identify a variety of potential sources of information in order to answer the question and contribute to the ongoing scholarly conversation;

This guide will help you do just this!

IT SAVES YOU TIME!

We live in a society of ubiquitious information coming at us from every level: top down, bottom up, and sideways from our friends and colleagues. Thinking about the type of information you are looking for helps you narrow the playing field. 

You will get the right kind of information you need faster.

It helps you EVALUATE the appropriateness and validity of information.

Information doesn't just "happen" or "exist" on its own.  It is produced by people and then disseminated, either through traditional (e.g., mainstream and scholarly publishers) or non-traditional (e.g., self-publishers, Internet) channels. Each has its merits, based on the kind of information you need.

Knowing what type of source you need or are currently using will tell you how the information has come to exist, so you can answer the following:

  • Who is the author? Why should I believe him or her? What expertise or credibility does he or she have?
  • Who has published this information? For what purpose? Has it been validated, reviewed, or edited?
  • How current is this information?
  • How objective is this information? What biases, assumptions, or worldviews underlie it?
Loading