Research Writing

Sources of research Characteristics identification Types

Research sources are the various types of documents that provide useful information and knowledge needed to carry out an investigation and, consequently, generate knowledge.

These types of sources can also be called information sources and vary according to the needs of the research process of which they are a part.

Every research process begins with the search for information related to a defined topic and develops around the various available sources (hypotheses, theories, techniques, among other types of documents).

Research sources allow the researcher to make a critical analysis of information. These are chosen according to the proposed emphasis for the research and can be primary (interviews, news, original documents, etc.), or secondary (encyclopedias, review of abstracts, bibliographies, etc.).

Primary and secondary sources are equally valid. However, primary sources are known as first-hand sources, while secondary sources are those composed of summary information related to a specific topic.

All research needs to make use of different types of research sources in order to ensure that the research is objective and not biased by the opinion of the person conducting it.

Characteristics of research sources

Research sources are a tool dedicated to the search for information, for the subsequent creation of knowledge. They allow the researcher to be aware of changes and advances taking place in a particular field or topic.

They are informative resources that aim to give a specific answer to the previous questions. Its usefulness is determined by the information needs of users (Wigodski, 2010).

These needs vary from one investigation to another and include finding and obtaining specific or general documents on the subject.

How are research sources identified?

Research sources are basically scientific documentation resources. To identify them first, it is necessary to delimit the topic to be investigated.

Once this topic is defined, a review of the existing and relevant bibliography on the topic to be addressed is carried out.

It is important to make a critical selection of material and constantly review the research approach and the steps that will be taken along the way. These revisions reduce the possibility of duplicate information.

Research sources should always be objective, avoiding the researcher’s personal opinion during the subsequent generation of knowledge.

On the other hand, the investigation process must be thorough and thorough. Only in this way is it possible to guarantee that the knowledge generated is of quality.

Types of research sources

There are two different types of research sources: primary and secondary (Woodley, 2016).

1 – Primary sources

Primary sources are those used to directly access information.

They are all those that include first-hand information, original and without abbreviations. This generally includes high-quality documentary production.


– They are as reliable and accurate as secondary sources.

– Its content is based on direct evidence or testimonials on the subject.

– They are written by a person directly involved with the research topic. Therefore, these sources address the problem from within a specific event.

Classification of primary sources

Monographs: usually found on the internet in the form of full texts. The intellectual property of these writings and works has been assigned by the author, or has expired over time, and is now in public use.

Although the authors may be individuals, many of these works are generally published by public institutions. This type of work is usually published and posted on the web.

– Personal diary: is a type of autobiography in which the author narrates the events of his daily life. In it, thoughts, activities and events of the writer’s private life are recorded (Porto & Merino,, 2009).

– News: this is information that has never been communicated before. It is an informative text or segment that allows the public to be informed about an event (Porto & Merino, 2008). It is a first-hand source of journalistic research.

– Other: Other primary research sources include novels, minutes, interviews, poetry, research notes, autobiographies, letters, and speeches.

2 – Secondary sources

Secondary sources are those that are composed of synthesized or reworked information.

These are research sources designed to act as quick reference tools. They present information in an organized and objective way, making them excellent sources of consultation.

Among the most important secondary sources are encyclopedias, specialized dictionaries, directories, bibliographic and statistical repertoires, among others.

Characteristics of secondary sources

– Analyze and interpret information provided by primary sources.

– Derived from the generalization of a subject.

– Analyzing, synthesizing, interpreting and evaluating the information to make summaries of it.

Classification of secondary sources

– Abstract journals: journals are periodical publications and generally support any research work (University, 2017). They can be found in online format, which guarantees their access and dissemination in a massive and global way.

Abstract journals are an easily accessible and low-cost source of research. The quality of the images used in them is generally high and allows communication between the author and the researcher. They often contain information on various topics in relatively short segments or articles.

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– Encyclopedia: the encyclopedia is the most representative source of consultation of all. It was created to solve doubts, collect and share knowledge on various topics. It consists of text and photographs, illustrations, drawings and maps.

– Specialized dictionaries: it is a work composed of terms organized in alphabetical order. It seeks to explain the meaning of these terms, within a specific area of ​​knowledge.

– Directories: are lists of individuals (institutions, people, organizations, etc.), organized alphabetically or in a specific topic. They provide important and easy-to-identify data.

– Statistics: it is an important source of research for decision making and analysis. It is essential to identify relevant behavior patterns and data that summarize the behavior of a group of individuals in relation to a specific topic.

– Bibliographies: are compendiums of bibliographic references selected with care and according to a defined method. These compendia are comprised of online and printed references. Its main purpose is to provide valid sources of information about the selected research topic.

– Other: Other secondary research sources include indexes, library catalogues, literary commentary and reviews, and the record of sources for any scholarly work.

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