Skip to Main Content

Library Tutorial for College Success Online

Source Types

1. WATCH: Video from Gladys Marcus Library about the information cycle. You can stop watching at 01:10.

Why does it matter?

2. ASK YOURSELF:  If you were trying to learn about the Boston Marathon Bombing, you could use different types of sources in different ways. What source types will help you answer your Big Question?

Photos from social media show the event in real-time

News posts show what was reported as the event was unfolding (which may later prove untrue)

News articles from days later show more as details emerge from officials

In the following weeks, magazine articles told personal stories, looked at the role of intelligence agencies, and more.

Months later and continuing today, scholars analyze aspects of the event related to their area of study, like how the media represented the suspects, how children were affected by the event, and how stock markets reacted.  These article are published in scholarly journals.

Years after, journalists and scholars write books adding historical information and additional analysis to the event.

All of these sources are "about the Boston Marathon Bombing," but only some are useful to answer the question "why did the bombing occur?" Others might answer "how did law enforcement and first responders handle the emergency?" and others might answer "what was the impact on the city of Boston?"

Choosing a source is about more than just credibility, it's also about how well the source answers your questions or furthers your research. 

Click the Next button to continue the tutorial