Types of Sources

What kind of information do you need? Different types of sources provide different types of information:

Peer-Reviewed vs. Popular Sources

Peer-Reviewed Sources

  • Also known as scholarly articles, these have been reviewed by experts in that subject area and provide in-depth information from a research study or literature review. 
  • Peer-reviewed sources are an important part of research--we have an entire page that goes over what they are and how to find them!
  • Peer-reviewed articles are good sources of in-depth information, but they don't usually provide general or background information on a topic.
  • The peer-review process takes some time; very recent topics may not have peer-reviewed articles available yet.

Popular Sources

  • Popular sources are written and then often reviewed or fact-checked by an editor before publication.
  • Popular sources can include books, articles from newspapers or magazines, and websites.
  • Popular sources can provide important general or background information on a topic.

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary Sources

  • Primary sources are original, first-hand accounts about an event, object, person, work, or time period.
  • Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • Letters, diaries, journals
    • First-hand newspaper reports
    • Speeches, memoirs, autobiographies
    • Original photographs, audio, or video that capture an event
    • Creative works of plays, paintings, and songs
    • Research data and surveys

Secondary Sources

  • Secondary sources analyze, summarize, or interpret.
  • Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • Textbooks
    • Criticisms and commentaries
    • Essays and reviews
    • Articles or books that discuss events and ideas

Search Terms

Synonymous, Broader, Narrower Terms

Before you start your search, think about your search terms. Determine the main idea(s) in your research question or topic. These will be your search terms. For example, if your research question is Should capital punishment be abolished?, then your search term is capital punishment. Make a list of synonymous terms, broader terms and narrower terms. Here's another look at this research question and a few related terms.

Example related search terms for capital punishment are the synonymous term "death penalty," the broader term "execution," and a narrower term of "lethal injection."


Can't think of any related terms? Try this online graphical dictionary and thesaurus.

Search Strategies

Search more effectively with these tips:

  • Use AND, OR, and NOT to expand or limit your search.
    • Use AND to narrow your search, for example: tuition and student debt
    •  Use OR to expand your search, for example: teenagers or adolescents
    • Use NOT to eliminate words, for example: pandemic not Covid
  • Use quotation marks to search for a phrase, for example: "global warming"
  • Use an asterisk to find words with different endings, for example: teen* will find teen, teens, teenager, and teenagers

Where to Search

Once you've decided what types of sources you want to use, use the links below to search for information.

Signing In

Use your Dallas College email address and password to access eCampus and for the following:

Databases Off Campus

Access library resources such as Academic OneFile and other library databases when not at a Dallas College location. NOTE: Only students currently enrolled in classes can access library resources when not at a campus.

Library Catalog Sign In

Renew checked-out materials, see the status of a requested book, or see when checked-out items are due back to the library. Go to the Dallas College Library Catalog and click on Sign In (top right corner).

Microsoft Office 365

Office 365 includes Outlook (email), OneDrive (cloud storage), Microsoft Word, Excel, and more.

Dallas College Email Addresses


  • Use the letter e followed by your seven-digit student ID number and @student.dcccd.edu
  • Student example: e1234567@student.dcccd.edu


  • Use your three by four followed by @dcccd.edu
  • Faculty/Staff example: abc1234@dcccd.edu