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Seeking the right information: Identify the sources

Module 2: How do I search?

Primary versus secondary sources
Scholarly versus popular information sources
Criteria    Scholarly Popular


In-depth, primary account of original findings written by the researchers; very specific information, with the goal of scholarly communication Secondary discussion of someone else's research; may include personal narrative or opinion; general information, purpose is to entertain or inform
Author Author's credentials are provided; usually a scholar or specialist with subject expertise Author is frequently a journalist paid to write articles, may or may not have subject expertise
Audience Scholars, researchers, and students General public; the interested non-specialist
Language Specialized terminology or jargon of the field; requires expertise in subject area

Vocabulary in general usage; easily understandable to most readers

Graphics Graphs, charts, and tables; very few advertisements and photographs Graphs, charts and tables; lots of glossy advertisements and photographs

Layout and


Structured; includes the article abstract, goals and objectives, methodology, results (evidence), discussion, conclusion, and bibliography Information; may include non-standard formatting; may not present supporting evidence or a conclusion
Accountability Articles are evaluated by peer-reviewers or referees who are experts in the field; edited for content, format, and style Articles are evaluated by editorial staff, not experts in the field; edited for format and style

Required. Quotes and facts are verifiable

Rare. Little, if any, information about source materials is given

Annals of Mathematics, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, History of Education Quarterly
Almost anything with Journal in the title

Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, Ladies Home Journal, Cooking Light, Discover 


Information can be in physical format or an electronic format.

1. Print sources

  • Include physical, tangible format of recorded information.
  • Does not require the use of an electrical device to "read" or extract the information.
  • Examples, book, photograph, magazine, etc.

2. Electronic resources

  • Include DVDs, MP3s, videocassettes, databases, eBooks, and the Internet.
  • Require device to "read" electronic sources.




There are a variety of information sources

Where should you look?   

Below is a list of information sources and their descriptions.

Academic journals are a peer-reviewed periodical devoted to disseminating original research and commentary on current developments in a specific discipline, subdiscipline, or field of study.

Artworks, such as illustrations, photographs, paintings, etc. are work of art in the visual arts.

Audio-visual materials, such as CDs, DVDs, podcasts, audio books, etc., are sources of images and sound.

Bibliographic databases are electronic indexes of book and journals. They contain document summaries or abstracts and can tell you where the resource was published. Some may also contain a link to full text documents. Examples include Social Care Online and the Campbell Collaboration.

Books provide overviews and background information on a topic. 

Electronic books are a digital version of a traditional print book designed to be read on a personal computer or eBook reader.

Electronic journals are a digital version of a print, or a journal-like electronic publication with no print counterpart.

Internet are electronic online resources which provide fast access to a diverse range of information worldwide.

Memorabilia are materials of sentimental or historical value to the person who created or collected them, including personal books and papers, clippings, photographs, sketches, correspondence, diaries, journals, notes, invitationa, badges, etc.

Multimedia are a combination of two or more digital media (text, graphics, audio, animation, video, etc.) used in a computer application or data file.

Reference sources contain information on a variety of topics and provide general background information.

Search engines  are easy to use and are a good way of finding information quickly.

Special collections are major resources for rare and archival materials covering a broad range of topics, formats, and periods.

Theses are unpublished or published reports of examined research.



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This contents of the Online IamInfoSMART may be reused with attribution. Please copy the following into new works based on the IamInfoSMART. The Online IamInfoSMART bthe DLSU Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported LicenseBased on a work at guides.library.uwm.eduPot of Gold Information Literacy TutorialTutorial for Info Power