Types of Sources


Resource Type


Publishing cycles

Good for…


This includes literature, nonfiction, and, broadly speaking, anything printed, bound, and published.

Varies depending on content.  Can take up to a year – sometimes longer

In-depth  analysis on a particular topic.

Magazines & Newspapers

Usually referred to as “popular” media/press.  U.S. News and World Report, Time, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan, GQ (Cosmo for men…).  The intended audience is the general population, the articles are generally fairly short (compared to scholarly sources) and usually broad in scope and do not use language and vocabulary that can’t be understood by a wide audience.  Journalist usually do not provide in-depth analysis (again, compared to scholarly sources).

Daily, weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, and occasionally quarterly

Introduction to a topic.  Provide the “current state” of a particular issue and/or event.

Trade publications

Published for a targeted audience within a particular trade.  They will use language and vocabulary that is commonly know within a particular field.  Business 2.0 targeted to people in the financial sector.  Motor Trend is for people in the car industry.  Aperture for fine arts photographers.   Communication Arts for people within the design community.

Daily, weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, and occasionally quarterly

Good for understanding how an issue is impacting a particular industry.


Similar to magazines and newspapers in that there is a set publishing cycle.  Different in that the articles are much longer and provide more in-depth analysis (sometimes up to 50 pages!).  Usually written by experts within a field.  Very rigorous editorial process.

Usually quarterly but there are some that are published monthly

Journal articles will offer in-depth analysis of a particular topic.  Can be more useful than a book sometimes; the author may map out an argument throughout an entire book – whereas the argument/analysis will be made within a 10-20 page article


 Type of source:
 Popular sources    
 Scholarly Sources    
 Trade Sources
 Examples Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair, GQ, Time, Newsweek
 Journal of Cold War Studies, Art Journal, Reference Services Review
 Art Forum, Forbes, Communication Arts
 Description Articles within popular sources are generally short, provide brief sketches of a particular person or event. 
 Rigorous editorial process; articles can be long (10 - 50 pages); provide much more in-depth information than popular or trade sources.
 Provides information related to a particular profession or discipline.  
 Intended audience
 General population.  Because of this, the language used and the concepts discussed will be fairly simple and easy to understand.
 Intended for a specialized audience - people performing in-depth study within a particular field.