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How To Do Research

Sources of Information

Video Thumbnail: Types of Sources
Video: Types of Sources

When researching a topic, it’s important to consider a variety of resources. Familiarizing yourself with different types of sources will help you understand what information is available and how to use it.

Primary Sources

A primary source may be a first-hand account of an event created during the time period being studied, or at a later date by a participant in the events being studied. 

Reference Sources (Encyclopedias & Dictionaries)

Reference sources like encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs contain concise, factual entries often written by different experts on the topic.

News Sources

Newspapers and online news sources provide credible documentation of an issue or event as well as editorial commentary and opinion to bring in perspective or analysis to contextualize an event or issue as it may fit into history.

Popular & Professional Magazines

Popular magazines provide the general public with information about topics of interest and current events. Professional or trade magazines are written by members of a particular profession or academic discipline. 

Academic Journals & Peer-Reviewed Articles

Academic journals are publications and forums where new research is evaluated. Studies that are published in academic journals are examined by an independent panel of academic peers.

Books & eBooks

Popular press or "trade publications" are books that are aimed at the general public. Academic books typically contain scholarly or scientific information and have extensive bibliographies. 

Government Documents

The U.S. federal and state governments provide documents and reports to the general public. These documents can contain population data, employment statistics, legislative documents and laws, budgets for government agencies or about spending, and crime statistics.

Films & Documentaries

Documentary films capture real-life events; they can shed light on concepts, ideas, places, people, or events.

Images & Photographs

Incorporating images and photos in research can enhance understanding and provide valuable insights into the topic being studied.

Statistics & Data

Data refers to raw numbers that are the results of observation and testing, often as a part of a study or survey. Statistics refers to the use of data in the context of other information.

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