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Critically Evaluating Information: Sources of Information

Where Information Comes From and Why It Matters

Information comes from a dizzying array of sources and each information source may produce several types of information. No matter what type of information you encounter, consider the intended audience and purpose of the information.

Compare the different sources of information in this table. Click on the examples to see examples of each source type.

Type of Source Examples Audience Purpose

Civic Sources

Citizens of all ages and education levels

Produce and distribute information for citizens to make informed decisions and play an active role in society

Commercial Sources

General public

Produce and distribute information recommending various products and services in the form of advertisements, PR campaigns, product placement and other materials

Entertainment Sources

General public

Distribute information to entertain

Scholarly Sources*

Scholars, college and graduate students

Produce and disseminate information to educate and advance human progress and understanding

* Most scholarly works undergo a rigorous review process before they are published, to ensure that data collection methods are untainted and arguments are valid. This means that experts in the field serve as gatekeepers. The process by which they filter works, called peer review (or refereeing), results in a body of quality scholarly information.