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This guide is intended for students taking English Composition II (ENGL 112). If you are taking English Composition I (ENGL 111) or would like a review of what was learned during the library instruction portion of your English Composition I course, please visit the English Composition I guide

In this guide you will:

  • Review different types of sources, considering their intended audience and purpose
  • Recognize scholarly articles and how they are different from other sources
  • Identify gaps in your research and the type of information you still need to find
  • Use appropriate keywords and search strategies in library databases to find scholarly and other sources

Common Source Types

Source type
Type of information


(in print and online)

general public

no prior knowledge of the topic

at the time the article is published it has the most current information that is known  to inform readers about current events and issues usually at a surface level

New York Times

Wall Street Journal


(in print and online)

general public

no or little prior knowledge of topic

information and opinions about popular topics, current events, and social issues

short articles are on a surface level; longer articles may go more in-depth or cover a wide variety of perspectives on the topic

to inform and potentially persuade an audience that has a particular interest in the topic or subject area

to provide an overview of many aspects of a broad topic


Psychology Today

The Atlantic


Professional or Trade publication 

(in print and online)

individuals in a specific field or occupation practical information and current news specific to an industry, occupation, or field of study to help professionals stay up-to-date in their field

Supermarket News


Inside Higher Ed

Scholarly/peer reviewed journal 

(in library database or on the internet)

scholars and experts in a field

articles written by scholars for other scholars often on a very narrow topic

articles are often peer-reviewed, or reviewed by other experts in the field for quality, originality, and value to the scholarly conversation on the topic 

to share the results of a research study or in-depth analysis of an issue with other scholars 

to participate in a scholarly conversation about a topic of research interest to the author

Journal of Applied Research in the Community College

Journal of Child & Family Studies

Government website

general public 

researchers looking for data

professionals in public policy related fields

statistics and data collected by state or federal government agencies

explanations of public policy, government regulations, or policies for state and federal government offices

documents published by state or federal government offices

to inform the public of policies, procedures, regulations, laws

to provide necessary forms to the public

to share publicly-available data, reports, or other publications (not all publications are free or available online)

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Academic book or ebook

students or scholars

individuals who have a particular interest in the topic

depending on the book, information may be written for novices or people who are new to the topic; vocabulary will be defined and main concepts will be fully explained

more advanced academic books intended for other scholars will use more sophisticated language and specialized vocabulary; ideas will be explored in depth and existing research will be referenced; new research or ideas may be presented in full detail and connected to existing research or theory

to cover a broad topic comprehensively 

or to delve into finer details of a complex topic that can only be addressed in a lengthy work

College (un)bound : the future of higher education and what it means for students

Food, farms, and community: exploring food systems

General website general public

varies widely depending on the website

carefully read the "About" page to learn more about the goals and intentions of the site

must be determined  by carefully evaluating the site

consider who publishes the site and learn what their goals and values are


general public

individuals who have common interests

one person's perspective on an issue

often written with a more personal tone than other websites or publications to connect with like-minded readers

my link to or reference a wide variety of other sources

may be part of a larger publication that falls under a different category (for example, The Plum Line is a blog from The Washington Post - a newspaper- and all posts are the opinion of the two bloggers)

depends on the author and publisher

carefully read the "About" page to learn more about the purpose of the blog

search Alltop or for just about any topic and you will find them!