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Library Research Skills for College Students: Step-by-Step

A step-by-step in-depth start to finish guide through the research process.

The Types of Information Used in Research

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Information is Written for Different Purposes



  • The purpose of background information is provides you with the basic facts about a topic.
    • Use reference sources like Credo Reference to find general information
    • Good for introducing your audience to your topic when writing a research paper or essay
    • Works well for speeches and presentations
  • The purpose of scholarly information is to examine a specific aspect of a topic in great detail.
    • Use peer-reviewed or scholarly articles from academic journals to find this information
    • Used in scientific and other professiona research studies
    • Also found in scholarly books and eBooks
    • Necessary for research papers and most essays
  • The purpose of popular information is to provide facts an opinions about a topic in a way that a general audience will understand
    • Use articles from  popular sources - newspapers, magazines, library books, television streaming video, podcasts, websites and other online media, etc.
    • Works well for speeches, presentations, and demos

Information iconInformation is Written for Different Audiences

  • Who will read your paper or watch your video or presentation? Thinking about who your audience is - your instructor, classmates, toddler  - will guide you in your choice of research materials.
  • general - your classmates for example
  • children of all ages - toddler, pre-school, elementary school, middle school
  • scholarly - scientists and medical experts, professors, instructors, and academics
  • professional - the business,legal, technology communities, administrators in all fields

Study iconInformation is Presented in Different Formats

If you are writing a research paper likely you will find the information you need in a print book or electronic database article. But if you are giving a speech about plant species in the region you may want to show an actual plant sample.

  • print - books, magazines, newspapers, reports, field notes, diaries, journals,
  • electronic and digital - books, magazines, newspapers, websites
  • audio - music, podcasts, interviews
  • visual - video, maps, charts, images, photographic, comics
  • physical - bones, fossils, plants, insects, artifacts

Learn more about different types of information at the links below!

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