Skip to Main Content

Chem 3A -- Introductory General Chemistry

Types of Information Sources

The type of information you need may change depending on the question you are trying to answer and the parameters of your assignment.
What is good information for one use is not necessarily good for another. 
This table shows how information sources can vary by the context of your information need.

 If you need  Find
 Expert evidence  Scholarly articles, books, research reports, and statistical data
 Public or individual opinion on an issue  Newspapers/ news sources, magazines, and websites
 Basic facts about an event  Newspapers/ news sources, and books
 Eye-witness accounts  Newspapers, primary source books, and web-based collections of primary sources   
 General overview of a topic  Books or encyclopedias
 Information about a current topic  Websites, newspapers, and magazines
 Local information  Newspapers, websites, and books
 Information from professionals working in the field    Professional, trade journals

[Table slightly adapted from the Library's Credible Sources tutorial]

From NCSU:

What are Scholarly Journals? 

  • Scholarly journals are usually focused on one or more related academic or professional fields.
  • Scholarly journals usually have various types of content such as primary research articles, review articles, news, editorials, commentary, and reviews of books or products.
  • Articles in scholarly journals are written by and for people in the same and or related fields. They use terminology specific to the field. They aim to contribute to the scholarly conversation by advancing knowledge. 
  • Articles in scholarly journals are usually peer-reviewed (aka "refereed") or undergo an editorial review by specialists in the discipline or profession. They carefully document (cite) their sources, and these cited references may point to earlier sources relevant to your topic.

There are also different types of articles in scholarly journals.

  • Review articles survey, summarize, and give context to primary research articles on usually very specific topics in a specific time frame.
  • Primary research articles (primary / first / "I" /eyewitness ) are reports and discussions of the results of original research, written by those who carried out the studies, and based on the results of their experiments or observations.

Typical Format of a Primary Research Article

  • Abstract: summary of what the study is about, how the research was conducted, what the findings are.
  • Introduction and Literature Review: background of problem, reasons for/objectives of the study, prior research & literature on the topic.
  • Methods & Results: how the study was conducted (samples, measurement, procedures), and what was found
  • Discussion & Conclusion: Interpretation of the results, summary of important findings & their meaning to the field; sometimes what the limitations of the study are and need for future research.
  • References: list of works referred to in the article.
  • [May include] Appendices or Supplemental Information files

[Why and ] How to Read a Scientific Paper  Purdue University Libraries
Includes questions to consider when reading different sections.