The location of the most useful information sometimes depends on how deeply you need to understand your subject. Different kinds of information sources are published at different intervals and have varying degrees of depth. This exercise presents basic guidelines for where to look depending on those two criteria.

Learning Objective

Students will think about the kinds of sources that will fulfill their information needs as part of understanding that authority is contextual


Review the brief guide to coverage (below) and take note of the kind of coverage of issues different sources offer.  Use the chart to tell which source(s) might be useful for the questions/situations listed beneath it. 

coverage cap


Which kind of source(s) would you consult in the following situations? For each situation list at least one place you would look for the requisite information. Write a brief explanation of why each would be a good source to use.

  1. You want to find out when exactly Hurricane Katrina made landfall.
  1. You want to see how Hurricane Katrina compares to other hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.
  1. You have heard of Kathleen Blanco but know nothing about her. Before you can tell whether or not she fits into your research needs, you need to find an overview of who she is and how she related to Hurricane Katrina.
  1. You want to read about the conditions survivors faced in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
  1. You want in-depth research into the roles that Kathleen Blanco, Ray Nagin, and Michael Brown played in the aftermath.
  1. What did Hurricane Katrina teach us about infrastructure and risk management in coastal cities?
  1. How might Hurricane Katrina have impacted young African-American’s views of government, race, and class?