You will find a variety of types of sources in your research, and it can be tough to know exactly what you're looking at sometimes. Being able to identify the kind of source you're using can be helpful when evaluating the relevancy and credibility of a source. You'll also need to know what kind of source you're looking at to ensure that you cite a source correctly as part of your research. The information below can help you identify a source before you evaluate the source for reliability and credibility. And of course, you can always search in Google for more information about a source and how to identify it!
A database is an online searchable collection of information or collection of materials, often put together because of their source type or subject area. For example, the Library has eBook databases as well as data & statistics databases, but we also have subject-specific databases such as business and engineering databases. Subject-specific databases do not contain every published item about a topic, but have often been created or curated by a publisher, organization, or particular company such as EBSCO or Elsevier. Sometimes, a database can feature both a specific source type as well as subject area. The IBISWorld database below is one example of a database offering a specific source type within a certain subject area.
Academic databases might contain articles from academic or scholarly journals. These scholarly journals are primarily for sharing research and analysis produced by scholars in a specific field of study with other scholars and researchers interested in the topic. The quality and accuracy of these journal articles is often assessed and reviewed by other expert scholars through the peer review process. Some article elements which might help you identify a source as a scholarly article include:
The journal title and article title listed below are examples of academic or scholarly sources which might be found in a database.
Elements of a Book or eBook might be:
The titles below are examples of a book and an eBook.
Elements of a Book Chapter might be:
Elements of a Thesis or Dissertation might be:
Trade journals are publications that keep professionals up to speed on a particular industry’s trends, debates, news, professional development opportunities, and best practices. They might provide up-to-date coverage of current trends or summarize the findings of scholarly research and studies. Elements of a trade journal might be:
The titles below are examples of trade journals.
Magazine articles usually contain general interest and/or news information. Magazine articles are written by journalists, and they are intended for a general audience. The language used in magazine articles can often be easily read by most people, lacks the technical language or jargon of a particular industry, and may contain the author's opinions. You can use magazines to find popular or general interest information. Elements of a magazine article might be:
The titles below are examples of magazines.
Newspaper articles contain up-to-date information about current events. Newspaper articles are written by journalists, and they are intended for a general audience. You can use newspapers to find information about both national and local current events. Elements of a newspaper article might be:
The titles below are examples of newspaper sources.
The internet makes it easier than ever to find information with a simple Google search and the click of a mouse. Elements of websites include:
When citing a website as a source, make sure you make it clear to your reader if you are using information from the entire website or just one page of the website.
Remember just because it is on a website, doesn't mean it is a website or a page of a website. If you are referring to an image or video on the website, it is not a website.
The links below show a variety of websites.
A blog is different than a regular webpage. It is often regularly updated by an author, usually on a particular topic. Sometimes, it can be more like a journal or informal series of posts. Elements of blogs include:
The titles below are examples of blogs: