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Syracuse University Libraries

Music Research Process

Types of Sources

Information sources can be categorized in several different ways, and it is important to understand these categories in order to locate the right search tools and the right mixture of sources for your research project or essay. 

  • Source Format
    • This is how the information has been published, and any format can be print or electronic.
    • When you cite sources, the format of your citation is dependent upon the source format.
    • examples: books, articles, book chapters, blog posts, websites, recordings
  • Source Audience
    • Sources typically have two audience types: popular and scholarly.
    • Categories are not always strict, but looking for indicators such as author and publisher credentials, presence of citations, and formality of language used can be good indicators. 
    • Peer reviewed journals are a specific type of scholarly source, and one that is used often in music research and essays.
  • Source Content
    • Generally three types: primary, secondary, and tertiary
    • Categories refer to whether the content is a first-hand account of a person/place/event/topic, or whether it is commentary or criticism of a person/place/event/topic. Any content type can be print or electronic.
    • Examples: letters, musical works, encyclopedias, peer-reviewed research articles, data sets, autobiographies,