7 Types of Information Sources

Consider a topic such as the safety of genetically modified food. Wading into this large and controversial area, you will quickly discover that information about it comes from a wide range of sources:

  • Blogs and opinion pieces
  • Natural medicine and consumer health sites
  • Scientific research articles
  • Government and NGO sites
  • Books, newspapers, and magazine articles

Each of these types of sources has different content, written by people with varying levels of expertise, and written for different audiences. And each of these types of sources will have a different value for you, depending on the context and requirements of your research need. Some assignments will require that you use scholarly, academic sources that have to undergo a lengthy editorial process and therefore take longer to appear. Other assignments may allow you to use less formal, popular sources of information that may be more timely.

Social media Icon depicting social media real-time, opinion, commentary, general audience
Website Icon representing the world wide web possible commercial purposes, opinion, general audience
Newspapers, news sites


icon depciting a newspaper up-to-date current events, editorial opinion, commentary, general audience
Magazines Icon depicting a magazine current events, topics of interest to general audience
Government/NGO Icon depicting government building reports, standards, statistics, more targeted audience
Scholarly article Icon depicting scholarly research article new research by scholars for other scholars, expert audience
Scholarly book Icon depicting a print book in-depth coverage of a topic by expert/experts, targeted audience
Encyclopedia, Wikipedia Icon depicting an encyclopedia and globe overview, background information, general audience

Fig. 2.2 Types of information sources.


All images above are from The Noun Project and are licensed under CC BY 3.0 US.

Social Media” by Petai Jantrapoon

world wide web” by Wilson Joseph

Newspaper” by Kick

Magazine” by nareerat jaikaew

Government” by  lathiif studio

Research” by Tanuj Abraham

Book” by Bertama Graphic

Encyclopedia” by Komkrit Noenpoempisut


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Doing Research Copyright © 2020 by Celia Brinkerhoff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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