It’s the beginning of the semester and most of your instructors have probably given you your research assignments. Maybe it’s a presentation, or a paper or an annotated bibliography? It’s time to begin searching for sources to support your research, but before you begin your search you should have an understanding of the different types of information sources that will be most useful for your research topic.
Another valuable type of resource is government documents. They offer a lot of primary sources and secondary sources as well. Some examples include:
• census data
• congressional hearings and court transcripts
• maps (current and historical)
• patents, trademarks and copyrights
• statistics regarding education, health, environment, transportation and more
• consumer information and statistics
Check out our online guides to government resources: general guide to Government Publications at the Oviatt Library and a list of all our Government Publication Subject Guides.
Now that you know the different types of sources available to you, take another look at your research topic or question and decide which kind of source you need to support your research. To help you decide which sources would be best, think about the currency of your topic and the type of evidence you need to support your ideas. The following table is an example of different types of research and the appropriate sources.
|Current events & trends →||Newspapers, news websites, magazines|
|Case studies, ethnographic research, longitudinal studies →||Scholarly journals & books|
|Statistics and legal documents →||Government documents and websites|
|Topic overviews & definitions →||Reference & books|
|In-depth analysis on a topic →||Scholarly journals & books|