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CAAMP-PADL Source Evaluation: Material Type


Page header stating material type


Scientists consult a wide variety of sources when working on research projects. At the beginning of a project, it is helpful to collect background resources that provide helpful contextual information. After gathering insights from background resources, use to databases to find scholarly, peer-reviewed resources. 

While databases do provide good scientific resources, they also provide materials such as magazine articles, trade journals, and conference proceedings, among other material types. It is important to recognize that different literature types (magazines, journals, etc.) have different roles to play when conducting research. The graphic below outlines the different types of sources found in databases. 



Magazines and trade publications might be good resources for collecting background information, but scholarly, peer-reviewed articles will provide research findings that have been evaluated by other experts in the field. Choose sources that align with your project's goals, and be vigilant when selecting sources. 

Material Types

Research is fun and exciting because of the many different resources that are available. Most students consider books and journal articles as common go-to resources, but depending on your project, you might also consult:

  • Trade journals
  • Data repositories 
  • News sources 
  • Blogs written by diverse audiences 
  • Tweets from a policymaker 
  • Government agency websites
  • Something else new or exciting! 

When selecting resources for a project, choose materials that align with your project's specifications and your learning goals

For example, scholarly journal articles are best for research and formal writing assignments, but you might refer to a blog post in a weekly class discussion board.

Get creative with the sources that you use. Keeping the CAAMP-PADL framework in mind will help you to discern a resource's creditability. 

Guiding questions

  • What type of resource is this?
    • Is it a magazine, trade journal, peer-reviewed article, or something else? 
    • Look at the source carefully. Some sources look academic in nature, but after a critical analysis, the material might not actually be scholarly. For example, some news sources with long-form essays might resemble a trade journal or scholarly article. 
  • Does the resource type align with your scholarly goals? 
    • Every project requires different source types. Consult your assignment's prompt to see what type of resources will best meet your information need. 

Many databases have "material type" limiters that you can use to refine your search. This is a quick way to refine your search to resources that are most relevant, such as only displaying scholarly journals.