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Types Of Information Sources

Updated on October 22, 2011

Information can be obtained through various means. A source that provides any kind of information is called an information source. There are basically two types of information sources:

  • Primary information sources
  • Secondary information sources

These sources are then further divided onto different types.

Primary Information Sources

The primary information sources are those that contain the primary information that is the first hand information. For example if you take a statistical data directly from the person who has obtained the data then it would be from the primary source.

Similarly a teacher can also be called a primary source of information, though he may have learned from the secondary source but since you get the information directly from the teacher he/she serves as the primary source.

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Secondary Information Sources

Secondary information sources are those sources which are the analysis or are based on the primary information.

Most of the information sources that we use for a research are mostly secondary, for example a textbook containing various laws of physics that were made by different scientists is a secondary source containing information that was primary to the scientists that made the law.

News papers are also a secondary source as they contain the information that was collected by some one else.

Some of the commonly used secondary information sources are:

  • Books, which includes text books, autobiographies, etc
  • Periodicals
  • Electronic sources


A book is a form of written information which is mostly used as a secondary source of information. There are four types of book:

  • Monographic books
  • Polygraph books
  • Reference books
  • Bibliographies

Monograph Books

The monograph books are those books which have the comprehensive information about a specific topic and are mostly based on single subject, issue or a topic. A monograph book is continuous and to get information about the subject, one has to read the book completely. For example a book on microbiology would contain the history and complete information regarding all the major aspects of the subject.


Polygraph Books

The polygraph books are the books that contain a set of articles and information regarding various subjects. Some text books are mostly included in this category as they are mostly comprised of chapters related with different topics.

In short any book that is a collection of different essays, articles based on various topics is a polygraph book.

Reference Books

The reference books are those books which are compilations of small information. This information can be about a word or incidents, these include: dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, handbook, manuals or guide books and fact finders or almanacs.

  • Dictionaries are composed of various words and their meanings. Dictionaries can be general or specific subject based. A general dictionary of English language would comprise of all the commonly used words of English language and their meanings, on the other hand a dictionary of lets say physics would have all the important terms used in physics along with their meanings and definitions.
  • Encyclopedias are a collection of small yet extensive information of things. Just like a dictionary encyclopedias can either be general or subject based. The information given about anything in an encyclopedia maybe of a paragraph or 5-6 pages or more. But not more than 15 pages.
  • Fact finders or almanacs are comprised of brief information regarding various facts and incidents. Fact finders are mostly general and contain information regarding all the important facts of the world. But they too can be subject or even region based. For example a fact finder of the western world would obviously have important facts about the western world.
  • Handbooks, manuals and guides contain quick facts, definitions and formulae of a specific subject. Handbooks are not general and are restricted to a certain subject, form example a handbook of calculus formulae.
  • Atlases contain the information regarding different countries and cities along with their maps and other geographical information.

The internet and Google is making all these sources obsolete. Now we can find whatever information quickly using a search engine like Google.
The internet and Google is making all these sources obsolete. Now we can find whatever information quickly using a search engine like Google.


These books contain citations of sources of particular information. Bibliographies often cite the best sources for any information and are subject based.


Periodicals are the source of written information that are released or issued after a certain period of time. These include newspapers, magazines and journals. News papers are issued daily and contain latest information and news about the world or a local region or a city.

Magazines too are issued periodically and can be subject or a topic based. For example vogue is a fashion magazine that has information only about the latest fashion where and spider is a magazine about the computer world.

Electronic Sources

These include: internet, mobile phones, computers, TV etc.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      are this the only ones

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      well there are lots of types of information sources like radio,tv,computer.books,newspapers,books,magazines


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