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Introduction to Research: Types of Sources

This guide will help you get started on the research process

Types of Sources

There are different types of sources to fit different research needs. You should start with reference sources which are short and basic, move to popular sources which can give a little more detail, then look for some scholarly sources which are longer and very detailed.

Reference Sources

Reference sources are:

  • A good place to start your research.
  • Provide simple, short introductory articles. 
  • An example of a reference source is an encyclopedia ex: Social Issues in Science and Technology: An Encyclopedia.

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Popular Sources

Popular sources are:

  • Reviewed by an editor
  • Written for the general public
  • Articles are shorter, give an overview on a wide range of topics
  • Can have pictures, images, color
  • An example of a popular source is a magazine ex: National Geographic.

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Scholarly Sources

Scholarly sources are:
  • Written by professionals, scholars, and researchers
  • Reviewed by a team of other professionals, scholars and researchers in the field (Peer Reviewed)
  • Written for other professionals, scholars, and researchers
  • Articles are longer,  in-depth, and use a lot of citations
  • Usually discusses findings of an original research study (primary source)
  • An example of a scholarly source is a journal ex: Journal of Earth Science.

cover image for: Journal of earth science (Wuhan, China)