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WSH ENG 101 Types of Sources: Types of Sources for Research

A guide to support English 101 in alignment with new learning outcomes.

Types of Sources Chart

Sources of Information

Type

Information

Use

 Characteristics

Examples

Newspapers

A newspaper is a collection of articles about current events usually published daily. Articles are written by paid writers called journalists.

Newspaper articles are considered popular literature. That is, newspaper articles are written for and read by the general public.

It is a great source for local information.

  • to find current information about international, national and local events
  • to find editorials, commentaries, expert or popular opinions
  • Where? - you can find newspapers everywhere (airports, book stores, grocery stores, etc.)
  • Authors - newspaper articles are written by journalists. Journalists generally attend college and earn an undergraduate degree in journalism. They are not experts in any field, other than writing newspaper articles. They write an article every day, depending on what their editor has required of them.
  • Newspaper Article Title - generally, newspaper article titles are short and catchy. They are titled to attract attention or be noticed while you walk past.
  • Appearance - cheap paper (newsprint) and ink that rubs off in your hands typifies the ephemeral nature of newspaper articles.
  • Frequency - daily. Newspaper stories can change from day to day, which is why you should exercise caution before you use a newspaper article for your paper.
  • Advertising - newspapers sell advertising space.
  • Length of Articles - newspaper articles are not particularly long, generally measured in inches of length and often in paragraphs. Remember, newspapers are written for the general public, they won't go in depth on their topics.
  • Language - newspapers are written in easy to understand language, avoiding jargon and technical terms. Remember, they are written for the general public.
  • Sources - newspaper seldom contain bibliographies. In fact, in most articles it isn't really clear how they learned what they wrote about beyond sometimes cryptic notes of "industry sources" or "unnamed White House officials."
  • Purpose - newspaper articles are trying to entertain the reader, sell a product (their own or their advertisers), or promote a viewpoint.
  • West Bend Daily news
  • New York Times
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • USA Today
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Washington Post
  • Chicago Tribune
  • The Cap Times (Madison)

Magazine

Sports Illustrated Magazine

A magazine is a collection of articles and images about diverse topics of popular interest and current events.

Usually these articles are geared toward the average adult.

  • to find information or opinions about popular culture
  • to find up-to-date information about current events
  • to find articles for the general public
  • Where? - found in newstands, book stores, grocery stores, etc.
  • Authors - magazine articles are written by a diverse group of people. In many cases, magazine articles are written by journalists. Journalists generally attend college and earn an undergraduate degree in some form of writing. They are not experts in their field, generally speaking. They write an article every week or month, depending on what their editor has required of them.
  • Magazine Article Title - generally, magazine article titles are short and catchy. They are titled to attract attention or be noticed while you flip through the issue.
  • Appearance - glossy pages with color photos are normal.
  • Frequency - usually weekly or monthly
  • Contents - current events, general interest
  • Advertising - magazines sell advertising space.
  • Length of Articles - not particularly long, 2-3 pages in length is the norm. Remember, magazines are written for the general public, they won't go in depth on their topics.
  • Language - magazine articles are written in easy to understand language, avoiding jargon and technical terms.
  • Sources - magazines articles seldom contain bibliographies.
  • Purpose - magazine articles are trying to entertain the reader, sell a product (their own or their advertisers), or promote a viewpoint.

 

  • National Geographic
  • Sports Illustrated
  • People
  • Time
  • US News & World Report
  • Vogue
  • Cosmopolitan

Professional/Trade Journal   

A trade journal is a publication written for people within a particular career/industry. It contains short articles related to current trends in the profession.

  • find out current trends in a particular industry
  • stay up to date in your career
  • Where? - you can occasionally find trade publications in newsstands, but most readers subscribe to these journals or get them through a professional association membership.
  • Authors - trade publications are frequently written business or industry representatives (who may or may not have an advanced degree). Some trade publication articles are anonymously written, which should always be a clue that this is not scholarly.
  • Trade Publication Title - generally, trade publications will have titles that contain the subject they cover, for example: Monitor on Psychology and Grocery Store News or Womens Wear Daily.
  • Content - business or industry trends, products, techniques.
  • Appearance - glossy pages with color photos are standard.
  • Frequency - usually weekly or monthly.
  • Advertising - trade publications sell advertising space to businesses marketing services to people in the field.
  • Length of Articles - trade publication articles are not particularly long, 2-3 pages in length is the norm. Remember, trade publications are written for the professionals in the field. They assume you know the basics of the industry and don't often provide explaination of basic concepts.
  • Language - trade publications are written in the language of the profession, which can cause them to resemble journal articles.
  • Sources - trade publications seldom contain bibliographies. In fact, in for many trade publication articles, Purpose - trying to inform their audience about trends in industry.
  • Library Journal
  • Convenience Store News
  • Restaurant Hospitality
  • Retailing Today
  • Women's Wear Daily
  • Advertising Age
  • Billboard
  • Publisher's Weekly

Scholary/Peer Reviewed Journal

Child Development Journal

A scholarly/peer reivewed journal is a collection of articles usually written by scholars in an academic or professional field. An editorial board reviews articles to decide whether they should be accepted.

Articles in journals can cover very specific topics or narrow fields of research.  NOTE: not every article in a scholarly journal is peer reviewed.  An example of this would be a letter to the editor.

  • when doing scholarly research
  • to find out what has been studied on your topic
  • to find bibliographies that point to other relevant research
  • Where? - most likely the only place you will find journals are academic libraries. UW-WC subscribes to some academic journals in print but our main access is through the databases.
  • Abstracts - journal articles frequently contain an abstract, or descriptive summary of the article, before the main body of the article.
  • Authors - journal articles are authored by researchers and experts. They frequently (but not always, depending on the discipline) have a Ph.D. in their area of research. See if you can determine qualifications of the author. Often, this qualification is present on the first page of the article. It could include Dr. before their name(s) or Ph.D. after. Look also for universities or research institutions as affiliations in the database record or also on the first page. Often university affiliation is on the bottom corner of the first page of the article. Frequently, depending on the discipline, articles in the social sciences are authored by multiple authors.
  • Journal Article Titles - Often, journal article titles (not the journal name) are long and descriptive. The longer the article title, the more likely it is to be a journal article.
  • Article Sections - journal articles have some very clearly labelled sections: Introduction, Methodology, Literature Review, Results, Discussion, References
  • Length - the longer the article, the more likely it is to be a journal article. You will find five page journal articles, but they are rare. Most research articles average 10-15 pages in length.
  • Sources - journal articles ALWAYS contain a bibliography or references list. ALWAYS.
  • Frequency - usually published monthly or quarterly.
  • Contents - reseach in the profession or field
  • Advertising - few or none. Advertising is generally rare for journal articles.
  • Tables, Charts, Graphs - frequently, journal articles contain tables, charts and graphs to summarize their research. The presence of photographs is not necessarily indicative of joural articles, but tables, charts and graphs definitely are.
  • Cost - journals are expensive. Journal subscriptions can cost several hundreds to thousands of dollars per year.
  • Journal of Communication
  • The Historian
  • Journal of the American Medical Association
  • Child Development

Database

 

A database contains citations of articles in magazines, journals, and newspapers. Some databases contain abstracts or brief summaries of the articles, while other databases contain complete, full-text articles.

  • when you want to find credible articles on your topic in magazines, journals or newspapers.
  • Accessible online
  • "Paid for" content through institutional subscription - typically available via public or academic library
  • Contains all of the above types of sources.
  • Indexes articles by assigning subjects.
  • Academic Search Complete (a general database)
  • SocIndex (a sociology database)
  • ABI/Inform (a business database)

Books

Books cover virtually any topic, fact or fiction. For research purposes, you will probably be looking for books that synthesize all the information on one topic to support a particular argument or thesis.

  • when looking for lots of information on a topic
  • to put your topic in context with other important issues
  • to find historical information
  • to find summaries of research to support an argument
  •  
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders Through the Lifespan (RC558 .A88 T368 2013)
  • Bon Jovi: America's Ultimate Band (ML421 .B68 O47 2013)

Media

This could be a variety of things from YouTube clips to art to music to documentaries to a movie. Media give a different perspective on a topic.
  • alternative views
  • images
  • video clips
  •  
  • Video clips on YouTube
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh
  • A Civil War documentary
  • Beethovan's 5th Symphony

 Website

One of the main features of the Web is the ability to quickly link to other related information. The Web contains information beyond plain text, including sounds, images, and video.

The important thing to do when using information on the Internet is to know how to evaluate it!

  • to find current information
  • to find information about companies
  • to find information from all levels of government - federal to local
  • to find both expert and popular opinions
  • Online
  • Contains graphics
  • Additional information found by clicking on hyperlinks
  • Can be created by anyone, with expertise or not.