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Writing 10 (Varnot): Types of Information

College Reading & Writing

What is the Difference Between Primary & Secondary Sources?

University of West Florida, John C. Pace Library (3:53)

Scholarly, Trade, & Popular Articles

University of West Florida, John C. Pace Library (4:53)


Below are some information source types that may be helpful for your research. This is not an exhaustive list.

Source Definition Example

A statistic is a number that describe some characteristic, or status, of a variable, eg, a count or a percentage.

Statistics are numerical summaries of data that has been analyzed in some way.

DATA-PLANET. Data and Statistics Terminology and Definitions.

United States, Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights. "Civil Rights Data Collection: Data Snapshot (School Discipline)." March 2014,
Newspaper articles

A regularly published collection of fairly brief articles that provide updates on current events and interests.

Newspaper articles are written largely by newspaper staff and editors and often do not provide authors' names.

A common feature of most newspapers is its editorial page, where the editors express opinions on timely topics and invite their readers to submit their opinions.

News and magazine articles are also called popular articles.

"Government Watchdog Finds Racial Bias in School Discipline" is an article that was published in The New York Times.

The New York Times is a major national newspaper with a left of center perspective with relatively high levels of factual reporting.

To learn about the perspectives of news sources, visit:

Scholarly articles

Journals are scholarly publications containing scholarly articles written by researchers, professors and other experts and are intended for an academic or technical audience.

Scholarly articles, which report on research findings, are usually reviewed by experts in a process known as peer review before they are published.

Welsh, IssuesRichard O., and Shafiqua Little. “The School Discipline Dilemma: A Comprehensive Review of Disparities and Alternative Approaches.” Review of Educational Research, vol. 88, no. 5, Oct. 2018, pp. 752–794, doi:10.3102/0034654318791582.

"The Review of Educational Research (RER) publishes critical, integrative reviews of research literature bearing on education, including conceptualizations, interpretations, and syntheses of literature and scholarly work in a field broadly relevant to education and educational research" ("About").


Like reference sources, books can help you get a broader understanding of a topic. They can also provide context for the specific studies you will come across in article databases. For some fields, like in the humanities and social sciences, books and book chapters can be very helpful.

Scholarly books are published by university presses, such as UC Press, NWU Press, etc.

MPushout : the criminalization of Black girls in schoolsorris, Monique W. Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools. New York, The New Press, 2016.

"The New Press publishes books that promote and enrich public discussion and understanding of the issues vital to our democracy and to a more equitable world...

"Underlying The Press's editorial program are three aims: to broaden the audience for serious intellectual work, especially by reaching out to audiences intellectually red-lined by commercial publishers; to bring out the work of traditionally underrepresented voices; and to address the problems of a society in transition, highlighting attempts at reform and innovation in a wide range of fields" ("About The New Press").


Reference sources, like dictionaries and encyclopedias, provide you with background information on a topic. Gaining foundational knowledge is a good idea before taking a dive in article databases because the kind of information in the databases is very specific, and you might not yet have some of the needed terminology.

Although there are many general encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia and World Book Encyclopedia, there are many specialized encyclopedias that focus on particular subjects or disciplines.

Applebaum, Barbara. "Race and Education." Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Philosophy: Education, edited by Bryan Warnick, Macmillan, 2018. Credo Reference,

"School discipline." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Jan. 2019, Accessed 3 Feb. 2019.