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COM 110 - Communication as Critical Inquiry

This guide, developed specifically for students enrolled in COM 110 and COM 110.01, provides strategies and content for finding resources, introducing types of information, evaluating sources, and citing in APA.

Types of Information and Sources

There are many different kinds of information out there. This video provides a quick overview of the a handful of the types of sources you may use for your projects and assignments.

The table after the video describes a few commonly encountered types of sources, who creates them, who uses them, and some factors that might influence whether you choose to use them in an academic setting.

Remember, there are no "good" types of sources or "bad" types of sources. While scholarly journals might be best to support your research paper, web sources might help you make a persuasive argument or gather background on a topic.

Types of Sources video developed by Instruction and Student Engagement Department, Milner Library, Illinois State University
Creative Commons License This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
You can also view the video here:

Types of Information table

Source Type Author Audience Best For Downsides Timeline
Newspaper Journalists, columnists General audience General news coverage, interviews, primary sources. Record of historical events and quotes from witnesses. Authors not always experts; for breaking news, corrections after the fact are likely; potential editorial bias Day or week following event
Magazine Columnists, freelancers; may have little or no professional background on the topic General audience, people with specific interests on a topic or industry (cooking, sports, fashion, etc). Niche coverage of news, extended profiles and interviews Authors not always experts; sources not always cited or available Weeks or months following event
Books Researchers and scholars, but can be anyone. Choose books from scholarly presses or universities for research purposes (i.e. Oxford University Press). Varies depending on topic and genre (general audience to scholars) In depth coverage and analysis of events; background of historical events Academic books not always peer reviewed; can be long and dense; may be out of date; Months to years following event
Scholarly/academic journals Researchers or experts in the field Scholars, researchers, professionals, or students in the field. Audience is likely expected to have some broad knowledge of the topic and specialized language. In-depth research on a specific topic; peer reviewed studies written by experts; raw data and information; bibliographies of other sources; Terminology and data can be difficult to understand; often 10-40 pages long. Months to yearlong publishing process
Websites Anyone. Credibility and expertise cannot be assured. General audience News, government information, statistical information, company information, opinions and points of view. Credibility cannot be assured; possible misinformation and disinformation; sources not always cited. Information can go online immediately after an event