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Source Types

When doing research, you will encounter a wide variety of sources that can be found in a variety of formats. You need to be able to understand how information is delivered and the way you access it makes a difference in how you cite it, evaluate it, and how it fits your needs.

Types of Sources and Access Options
Information is delivered through: Information is accessed through:
  • Books
  • Book Chapters
  • Book reviews
  • Blog Posts
  • Journal Research Articles
  • Magazine Articles
  • News
  • Personal Correspondance
  • Photographs
  • Website, single page
  • Website, whole site
  • Apps
  • Audio
  • Databases
  • eBook formats (ex. Kindle, ePub, PDF)
  • Images
  • Live, in person
  • Online
  • Print
  • Podcasts
  • Social Media Posts
  • Video

These lists are not comprehensive, but when you start to think about it you will see that something like the news can be delivered through Cable Television, an Internet Broadcast, a Podcast, the Radio, a Tweet, or a print Newspaper. On the other hand, an image can be an infographic, a photograph of an event, a screenshot of a tweet, a photo of a work of art, or a picture of a Newspaper page. It can get tricky, so you need to be able to identify what you are using, where it is coming from, and how to evaluate it.

Evaluating Sources

There are several different methods you can use to evaluate sources. One very simple one is the rhetorical triangle:

Rhetorical Triangle

Rhetorical Triangle

You can evaluate information based on the author, the target audience, and the purpose for which it is published.


Look at the competence and expertise of the author in the area they are writing.


Consider who the information is written for and whether you fit into that group.


Use the context of where the information is found as well as the context within which is was written.