What are the sources of information?

We explain what are the sources of information in an investigation and how they are classified. Also, how to identify reliable sources.

  1. What are the sources of information?

In an investigation , we talk about sources of information or documentary sources to refer to the origin of a certain information , that is, the support in which we find information and which we can refer to third parties so that, in turn, they recover it for themselves.

The sources of information can be of a very diverse type and can provide more or less reliable data , which will have a decisive and decisive influence on the results that we will obtain. To investigate is to obtain information, and to know how to investigate is, therefore, to know how to collect the information in the most reliable way possible.

In the contemporary world, information flows and is at your fingertips thanks to the Internet and computerized technologies. However, it is poorly organized and not very hierarchical, causing much of it to be lost among “junk” or low-value information, which, from so much repetition, has lost the necessary context or has been transformed into what is not.

For this reason, being able to identify reliable and relevant sources is more necessary than ever , as well as information management studies. In addition, information is essential for responsible decision-making , so companies and organizations rely on thorough research with reliable sources to achieve their objectives.

  1. Types of information sources

The sources of information can be classified into:

  • Primary . The primary sources are those closest to the event being investigated, that is, with the least possible amount of intermediations. For example, if a car accident is investigated, the primary sources would be direct witnesses, who watched the action occur. However, if a historical event is investigated, the collection of direct testimonies would be a possible primary source.
  • Secondary . The secondary sources, on the other hand, are based on the primary ones and give them some type of treatment, whether synthetic, analytical, interpretive or evaluative, to propose new forms of information. For example, if a historical event is investigated, the secondary sources would be those books written about it some time after what happened, based on primary or direct sources. If what is investigated, as in the previous example, is an accident, then a summary of the testimonies of the witnesses, written by the police, constitutes a secondary source.
  • Terciarias . These are those that collect and comment on primary and / or secondary sources, thus being a mixed reading of testimonies and interpretations, for example. Considering the case of the accident, a tertiary source in this regard would be the complete police file, which contains photos , testimonies, police reports prepared from the latter, etc.
  1. Examples of information sources

primary information sources audiovisual interview
A television interview is an example of a source of audiovisual information.

Sources of information or documentation can be found in various media such as recordings audiovisual , sound recordings, books, articles, newspapers and basically any medium that allows capture and preserve information, and then retrieve it .

On the other hand, testimonies, stories, reviews, essays , web pages , reflections, bibliographic listings , indexes, professional, accidental or clandestine recordings, photographs, filming and even illustrations are sources of information.

  1. Trusted sources of information

The reliability of a source of information comes from its responsible management of it. Sources of reliable information are those that:

  • They clearly indicate what their own sources are . To the extent that their sources, at the same time, are reliable sources, the greater the credibility accumulated.
  • Apply understandable reasoning or interpretation . That is, he exposes his ideas in a clear, transparent, frontal way, without hiding information and without crazy conclusions.
  • Avoid plagiarism and repetition . The responsible handling of the information happens by not repeating blindly what others say, nor stealing the information that third parties have rescued, but instead deals in a serious and gradual way with the subject of interest.
  • Manage different perspectives . The choice of sources may reveal a bias in any investigation, so it is always considered responsible to cover as many points of view as possible, even when they are contradictory. Responsible text has nothing to hide.
  • It is legitimized by third parties . To the extent that a source is considered reliable by a large number of serious researchers, it will be more likely to be reliable, as it is very difficult to deceive the criteria of hundreds of research professionals forever.

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