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Research and Learning skills: Information types

Types of sources

Finding resources for your assignments can be a daunting task where you have to determine how authoritative a source is. There are two basic types of sources based on level of authority: scholarly and non-scholarly.

To help students to identity the sources better, here are some basic explanations:

Scholarly sources (also referred to as academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed sources) - are written by academics or researchers who are experts in their fields for other academics to read.

The most common scholarly source is a journal article. A journal is like a scholarly magazine. Its writing and focus is for a specific audience. Most electronic databases,such as WAI LRC subscribed databases, allow you to limit your search to peer-reviewed or scholarly journals.

Some books can also be considered a scholarly resource. Books which are written by academic experts for an academic audience are likely to be scholarly sources.

Non-scholarly sources

For Higher Education assignments, scholarly and/or peer-reviewed sources are often the requirement. However, you still may need to use information from a non-academic author.

Non-scholarly sources are not written by experts or for an academic audience, and often do not include any references, or only a few references in a informal style.

Non-scholarly sources can be newspaper articles, magazines,  government reports and most web sites - including Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo...etc.

These sources can be a great place to find background information about a topic, however, it is important to evaluate your sources so that you are using reliable and accurate information.

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