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ENGL 102/108: Types of sources

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Types of sources

The type of sources you need depend on your topic and what sort of information you’re trying to find for your research.

If you’re researching the death penalty in the United States and know little about the topic, you don’t want to start searching for peer-reviewed, academic articles. A better choice would be general topic or pro-con databases.

By the same token, if you have conducted all your background research and now need more specific, in-depth studies, then you will search in academic databases. 

Examples of general topic databases: Wikipedia, ProCon, Encyclopedia Britannica Online

Examples of academic databases: Academic Search Ultimate (EBSCO), ProQuest, Google Scholar

Don’t forget that the library has databases specific to every major at UArizona.

Activity: Learn to find library databases

Go to

Click on ‘See All Databases.’

The A-Z Databases page contains links to all databases you have access to at UArizona, including:

  • basic background information
  • in-depth scholarly research
  • discipline-specific resources
  • format-specific resources.

The three categories you can search by are Subjects, Database Types, and Vendors/Providers. Of the three, you only need to worry about the first two. 

The Subject category allows you to choose either by your major, the subject of your topic, or your interest. 

Database Types show you where to go to access different formats of resources -- (such as videos, primary source documents, newspapers, or if you're looking for background information, reference materials).

Vendors/Providers allows you to search by the publisher or creator of the databases. 

A few databases to get you started

For a list of useful databases for your research, go to our Resources page. 

Learn more

Try our tutorial:
What types of sources do I need?