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Research Fundamentals Tutorial

Information types and sources

A good research strategy is based on a strong research question. If you’re not sure how to ask a strong research question try reviewing the content in Module 1: Developing a Research Question.

Use your research question to help you determine what types of information sources you’ll need.

We'll use this research question as an example:

How does workplace automation affect job opportunities in the United States?


Let's examine different types of information and learn how they can help answer this question.

Source type: reference entries

Encyclopedia of Science and Technology on the library shelfInformation provided:

  • Usually short and straight forward. 
  • Includes dictionaries, encyclopedias, and some biographies.
  • Authors are sometimes unnamed experts in the field.
  • Provides overview and background.

Example publications:

Example that would help answer your question:

An encyclopedia entry entitled “Office Automation” from the Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology provides:

  • Overview
  • Definitions
  • Chronology of events
  • Important individuals or companies involved in the history. 

How to use a reference entry:

  • To help familiarize yourself with the topic of workplace automation.
  • To explore possible subtopics for refining your topic and research question (see Module 1).