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Identify Different Types of Information Sources: Article Sources

Different Types of Article Sources

  • Articles written by and for researchers or students in the discipline
  • Articles often have an abstract and a descriptive summary of the contents before the main text of the article
  • A sober, serious look and often contain many graphs and charts but few glossy pages
  • A long reference or works cited list of other scholarly writings

What is a Peer Review Process?

Diagram showing steps in the peer-review process.

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Scholarly or Peer-reviewed: How can you tell?

Scholarly or Academic Articles Written by researchers, and may/may not be reviewed by experts in the same field
Peer-reviewed or Refereed Articles Written by researchers, and always reviewed by experts in the same field before they are accepted

Close up photo of a microscopeAs a rule, empirical research articles are always peer-reviewed. They report qualitative or quantitative research based on observations or experiments in a particular field of study. In addition, they contain:

  • Extensive literature review summarizing current research
  • Methodology detailing the research process including instruments, population samples
  • Discussion and analysis of what worked and what needs to be still investigated or limitations

Discipline specific databases such as PsycINFO or ERIC or Medline will further allow you to limit your search to a particular type of publication or content. 

Librarian's Tip: 

Use advanced search mode when looking for empirical research articles. Use search terms  such as methodology, research studies, empirical research, empirical studies, etc. to find relevant results. 

Close up photo of several open magazinesPopular Magazines: They are generally heavily illustrated and have lots of advertisements. Articles are written by staff and cover current and general interest topics written in easy to read language. There is also no external review process. Unlike academic articles, there is no reference lists, however, sometimes sources may be identified in the article text (e.g., "Jane Doe, a teacher at the school, reports that...")

  • Examples: Esquire, Time, Good Housekeeping

Trade Magazines: A trade magazine, as the name suggests, is geared towards a specific industry or trade. Articles in a trade magazine are short and on industry or business related topics and trends. The editorial staff is responsible for the accuracy of information. You will find technical reports and technology reviews in a trade magazine.

  • Examples: PC World, Fire Chief, Engineering News-Record (ENR)

Photo of several folded newspapersNewspaper articles report current information and opinions on issues, popular topics, and trends. They are usually short. Use newspapers to find information about international, national, and local events. Different types of articles in newspapers have different purposes.

For example:

  • Editorials: give opinions on current issues and events, written by the editorial board
  • Op-Eds: discuss issues of relevance to the readers of the newspaper
  • Reviews: ​provide a short commentary on books, films, musical or theatrical performances

Try It!

"Try It!" with blank notebook and crumpled paper

Click on the link below to identify different source types!

Drag a Source Type box from left and drop it to match with the correct information on a clue card on right.

Learn More!

Pencils against a blue background. 'Learn More'

These videos will tell you more about scholarly-peer reviewed articles.

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