Skip to Main Content
CCAC Library

cycle of researching information

 CORI: cycle of researching information

Explore Source Types: Types of Sources

Learning Objectives

After completing this module, you will be able to:
 Identify and explain 5 different source types: traditional scholarly sources, gray literature, trade journals, non-traditional research sources, and everyday sources

Explore Source Types: Types of Sources

Tips for Viewing and Using the Tutorials

How to view the tutorials

Click each item's “Access” button to open and view it in a new window. If you are off-campus, you will be taken to the CCAC login page to sign in.

Access tutorial button

How to navigate the tutorials

Tutorials will have navigation links across the top that you will use to advance through the pages. They will look similar to this:

After completing the tutorial, close the browser tab or window to return back to this page.

Access Video: Types of Sources

Access Tutorial: Source  Types

source types: booksPrint and eBooks cover virtually any topic, fact or fiction. For research purposes, you will probably be looking for books that synthesize all of the information on one topic.

Use a Book

  • to put your topic in context with other important issues
  • to find historical information
  • to find summaries of research to support an argument


  • Tweed, Thomas. Religion: A Very Short Introduction, 2020.
  • Harper, Kyle. Plagues Upon the Earth: Disease and the Course of Human History, 2021.
  • X, Malcolm. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, 2015.

source types: reference & overviewReference and Overview sources contain brief, factual articles on many subjects and are often found in encyclopedias. These articles are useful to explore a topic when getting started with research.

There are two types of encyclopedias -- general and subject. General encyclopedias provide overviews on a wide variety of topics. Subject encyclopedias contain entries focusing on one field of study.

Use Reference & Overview Sources

  • when looking for background information on a topic
  • when trying to find key ideas, important dates or concepts


  • Encyclopedia of Marriage and the Family (subject encyclopedia)
  • Ancient & Medieval History Online (subject encyclopedia)
  • Britannica Academic (general encyclopedia)
  • Credo Reference (collection of subject encyclopedias)

source types: magazinesMagazines publish articles on topics of popular interest and current events. The articles are written by journalists and are for the general public.

Use a Magazine

  • to find information or opinions about popular culture
  • to find up-to-date information about current events
  • to find general articles written for people who are not necessarily specialists in the topic area

Examples of Magazines

  • Time
  • Rolling Stone
  • Business Week

source types: journalsJournal articles are written by scholars in an academic or professional field. A peer reviewed process or editorial board reviews the articles to decide whether or not they should be published. Journal articles may cover very specific topics or narrow fields of research.

Use a Journal

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

Examples of Journals

  • Journal of Marriage & Family
  • The Historian
  • Journal of Business Research
  • American Journal of Nursing

source types: newspapersNewspapers provide updated articles about current events and are a good source for local information.

Use a Newspaper

  • to find current information about international, national and local events
  • to find editorials, commentaries, expert or popular opinions


  • Wall Street Journal
  • New York Times
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

source types: websitesThe Web allows access to information from news sites, organizations, and government agencies. One of the main features of the web is the open access to information

Use Websites

  • to find current information
  • to access information from the Library's online resources
  • to find information about companies
  • to find information from all levels of government - federal to local
  • to find both expert and popular opinions

Examples of Web Addresses

  • The Library of Congress:
  • American Cancer Society:
  • CCAC:

source types: videosVideos and media clips can include full feature length films, documentaries, interviews, and instructional videos.

Watch a video or media clip:

  • to expand your knowledge on any subject
  • to analyze the work or compare to a text
  • to learn skills


  • Burns, Ken. The Civil War, 1990.
  • Medcom-Trainex. Blood Collection,, 2021.
  • Lee, Spike. Do The Right Thing, 1989.
CCAC Libraries | Community College of Allegheny County | Pittsburgh, PA | © 2021