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FOX Evaluating Sources: Types of Sources

Questions to ask about the potential sources for your project.


  • to find current information
  • to find statistical data
  • to find information from all levels of government - federal to local

Find using Google (or other search engine)


  • alternative views on topics
  • images or video clips

Find using Google, Search@UW, or Subject Databases

Magazines and Newspapers 

  • to find current information about international, national and local events
  • to find information written for the general public

Find using Google, Search@UW, or Subject Databases


  • 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

Find Using Search@UW

Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

  • when doing scholarly research
  • to find out what has been studied on your topic
  • to find references that point to other relevant research

Find using Search@UW or Subject Databases

Identifying Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Articles

Scholarly articles...

  • Have  a list of references at the end of the text 

  • Often feature an abstract (summary) at the beginning of the article 

  • Always list the author's name

  • Are detailed and are usually several pages long

  • Are many times peer-reviewed (or refereed)

  • Are aimed at scholars in a particular field (biology, history, philosophy, etc.)

  • Example Article: Organic and Conventional Foods: Differences in Nutrients

Popular magazines...

  • Often don't tell you who wrote the article or any of the sources they used

  • Are usually brief and offer only general or superficial coverage of a topic

  • Have lots of ads and are usually printed on glossy paper

  • Are written for a general audience

  • Are often great sources for current, general information on a topic

  • Examples include: Time, Newsweek, National Geographic

Types of Sources

Primary Documents

  • Original research articles
  • Letters, diaries
  • Raw data

Secondary Documents

  • Interpretations of primary documents and data


  • Overviews of literature or research in an area
  • Opinion pieces on a specific work (book or movie reviews)

Editorials / Letters to the editor

  • Opinion pieces meant to influence readers