Sources of Information includes all the sources from where you can get hold of information for an effective study. Information is an integral part of the learning process, which includes research and the use of materials for studying. Where does this information come from, and where to look for it are important questions.
Types of information sources
The information sources are divided into two broad sections that are further subdivided into various categories. These are as follows-
Documentary sources – The information sources that are recorded or published documents are known as documentary sources. These are available in physical form and can be handled physically.
1. Primary sources
These are essential types of documentary resources that are also known as first-hand information. The primary sources are the first records of the original research to be published and are often known as unfiltered and original ideas and information.
These are mostly unorganized and often the only information source available to mankind. The primary sources of information are used as significant evidence for a specific theory to gain perspective about an idea or a topic or as a part of criticism or claims.
It includes both published and unpublished works. Important advantages of primary sources of information are
- Everyone is aware that the original material is untarnished
- The primary information source addresses the topic directly
- It often presents essential information that is not available anywhere else
- The primary material is original, and hence the chance of misinterpretation or any form of assumption is none
- The information can be easily tracked back to the original writer
- People tend to give more weight to a primary information source than to other types of sources
Important disadvantages of primary sources of information are
- In some cases, the primary information source is incomplete, and this makes it unusable
- Relying on a primary information source is subjected to personal interpretation and knowledge. The original materials might not offer every reader the same value
Examples of Primary information sources
- Natural science – Original research, analyzed field data, analyzed the biological study, thesis, research monographs, research reports, etc
- Social science – Population data, articles in newspapers about specific events
- Art – Artworks by famous artists like Mona Lisa by Leonardo-da-Vinci
- Literature – Fiction works like The Three Musketeers, manuscripts
- History – Newsreel like the one related to Dandi March by Mahatma Gandhi
- General examples – Articles in newspapers about current events, interviews, speeches, diaries, books, conference papers, periodicals, letters, etc.
The information that refers to the primary source of information and is often compiled from it is known as the secondary source. As the name suggests, the secondary information is modified or reorganized to serve a specific purpose.
This information source includes arranged or repackaged knowledge and not any new information. It is a fact that secondary information is readily available than the primary information and provides an in-depth analysis of primary sources.
The information in the secondary source is published works that often list their information source or bibliographies. These are evaluations and summaries that provide a personal perspective. Important advantages of secondary sources of information are
- The secondary information sources can provide more context than the primary sources
- It offers supporting information that is often advantageous to the reader
Important disadvantages of secondary sources of information are
- The challenge that a secondary information source faces is that it is subject to interpretation, and this is why the reader often interprets it based on his perspective. If three readers are reading the same information, all of them will come to a different result
- The secondary information sources are not considered as reliable as the primary sources
Examples of secondary information sources are
1. Index type
- Index- This type of secondary information source adds usefulness to a topic and can be arranged chronologically, alphabetically, or topic wise.
- Bibliography – This type of secondary information source is arranged chronologically, alphabetically, or topic wise. It is an organized list of sources related to a given person or a subject
- Abstracting Periodicals – This type of secondary information source is a collection of concise summaries of articles that are issued regularly. It serves as a tool for retrieving necessary information on a particular subject.
- Indexing Periodicals – This type of secondary information source is a collection of titles of articles that appear in current journals. It includes an alphabetical list of titles, names, topics, etc. arranged in geographically or chronologically form.
2. Reference type
- Dictionary – This type of secondary information source deals with words of a specific subject or language and is often referred to as wordbook
- Encyclopedia – This type of secondary information source deals with concepts and provides information on a specific subject. This is referred to as a storehouse of knowledge that gives significant information.
- Tables – This type of secondary information source is ideal in presenting data. It is especially useful in science.
- Handbook – This type of secondary information source includes principles, procedures, and data in a handy and compact form.
- Manuals – This type of secondary information source is an instruction book that provides clear and specific directions.
3. Survey Type
- Monograph – This type of secondary information source is an attempt to offer basic information on a small scale.
- Reviews – This type of secondary information source aims to correlate the information over a specific period and is an indicator of trends and development in the concerned field.
- Treatise – This type of secondary information source is a summary on a subject that offers basic information needed for carrying out advanced research
These important types of documentary resources are an integration of both primary as well as secondary sources. It includes broad perspectives and provides a summary of the factual information.
The tertiary sources do not encourage a biased and critical point of view and instead are considered a very accurate and reliable piece of information. These are often the last of the documents that are published and provide an overview of the topic that also serves as background information for any thesis or research.
An important advantage of tertiary information sources are
- Tertiary information sources offer a quick introduction to a topic
An important disadvantage of tertiary sources of information is
- The chance of missing new insights or distortion of a topic is very high in the tertiary information sources
Examples of Tertiary sources are
The information sources that offer useful information that documentary sources are unable to provide are referred to as non-documentary sources. These are an integral part of subjects like science and technology.
The information sources that are life and provide instant information and are considered very important in the communication process are known as non-documentary sources.
An important advantage of this information source is that it is effortless to handle. This type of source also has limitations. It proves costly in case of the high distance between people, and there is a need for sophisticated techniques like telephonic devices, computers, the internet, etc. These are further divided into
The formal sources are types of non-documentary sources that include
- Government Department
- Research Organizations
The informal sources are types of non-documentary sources that include
- Conversation with colleagues
- Professional meetings
Informal information sources are live sources that are easily and conveniently available at the right time.
Information sources, as the name suggests, provide information and knowledge. These include observations, pictures, speech, documents, etc. The importance of sources of information is simply unimaginable.
It keeps people informed and aids in research, thesis, etc. People can gain an astounding amount of information through various sources. These can fulfill an individual’s requirement for information easily.