College Readiness Skills and Resources: Source Types

This guide contains resources and tools for high school students, teachers, and librarians related to writing, research and study skills that will help ease the transition to college.

Source Types - Links to additional resource pages

See additional pages in this guide related to Source Types with more details about Scholarly Journals, Primary vs. Secondary Sources, and Additional Online Resources .

Why use Newspapers?

international newspapers

[Credit: Goodshoot/Alamy]

Newspapers articles are not academic or scholarly sources since they are not peer-reviewed, they do not document their sources, and they are written by journalists for the general public, not by specialists for other specialists.  Many instructors will often restrict  students' research to scholarly sources like books and academic journals, but there are times when newspapers can be useful research tool:

Source Types

The process of researching and writing an academic paper typically requires the use and evaluation of appropriate scholarly sources. 

This page provides links to handouts, resources and tutorials focused on academic and non-academic SOURCE TYPES, including:  SCHOLARLY JOURNALS, PRIMARY VS. SECONDARY SOURCES, ADDITIONAL ONLINE SOURCES, and more.

Why use books?

open book in library
Question: What value lies in books? Why, for example, would a researcher choose a book over a journal?

Answer: Because of their length, books tend to provide more comprehensive treatment of a topic. Books can also be useful for providing footnotes to additional materials.

Why use reference works?

reference books on bookshelf

Question: What value lies in a reference work? Why, for example, would a researcher bother to consult a scholarly encyclopedia?

Answer: Reference books help researchers contextualize their topics and in turn begin to ask the right questions. Reference books set the stage for more efficient database searching; researchers cannot elicit relevant search results if they don't know which keywords (or search terms) to use.

Scholarly reference books also contain bibliographies that lead researchers to the most respected secondary and most useful primary sources on a topic.

In short, reference books are a great way to begin your research.

Why use scholarly sources? -- Academic vs. Non-Academic Sources

Academic sources are set apart from non-academic sources because they are written by experts in their field, and they are reviewed by peers (other experts) before they are published to ensure they are both timely and accurate.  Academic sources are written for readers already knowledgeable in the field, therefore, they contain subject specific jargon and are narrowly focused.  Your instructors expect you to use academic sources in your writing and unless told otherwise, avoid non-academic sources.