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Quick Start to Research: Understanding Types of Information

Guiding you through the research process.

Understanding Types of Information


Types of Information

Understanding source types can help you determine where you need to search for your research.  Below is a list of commonly used resources with brief descriptions of the information they can provide.

   Books and Ebooks

  • Cover virtually any topic, fact or fiction.
  • Useful for the complete background on an issue or an in-depth analysis of a theory or person.
  • Can take years to publish, so may not always include the most current information.
  • Find these sources by using ICC's library catalog found by clicking the Books & Videos link on our homepage

   Reference Sources, Encyclopedias, and Handbooks

  • Offer introductory overviews.
  • You can find background information to help you select a topic and place it in the broader context of the discipline.
  • Include facts, figures, addresses, statistics, definitions, dates, etc.
  • Find ICC's reference source list on the Databases & Articles page under Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

   Scholarly Peer-Reviewed/Academic Journals

  • Contain articles written and reviewed by experts in the discipline.
  • Topics are usually more narrowly focused.
  • Articles must go through a peer review process before they're accepted for publication.
  • Articles tend to have a narrower focus and more analysis of the topic than those in other types of publications.
  • Include cited references or footnotes at the end of research articles.
  • Visit the e-Journals link on the library homepage to search ICC's list of accessible journals

   Popular Magazines

  • Written for general audiences and are meant to entertain, inform, or present an opinion.
  • Include articles on diverse topics of popular interest and current events.
  • Articles typically written by journalists or professional writers.


  • Available in print and online and one of the first mediums to report on an event.
  • Provides very current information about events, people, or places at the time they are published.
  • Useful for information on current events or to track the development of a story as it unfolds.
  • NewsBank and Newspaper Source are popular databases to search for news articles. Find them on the Databases & Articles page on the library homepage.

   Video databases

  • Available through the library and provide scholarly coverage in a variety of disciplines.
  • Users can create playlists and create clips that can be embedded into other documents.
  • Video databases such as Films on Demand and Kanopy can be found through the Streaming Media & Video Collections on the library homepage.