Research-Based vs Community-based – Thoughts?

A helpful comparison developed by a student in INFO 200 a few semester ago that can guide you as you select your resources:

A Research-based information source is:
• Published by experts or academics
• Intended for use by many different people (community members, academics, etc.)
• One-way communication (from expert to reader)
• Provides fact-based authoritative content
• Fact-checked and edited
• May be formally preserved (books, encyclopedias, etc)
• May have community input, but exists outside of community control

A Community-based information source is:
• Published by community members
• Intended for use by the community
• Two-way communication (publisher and readers interact)
• Provides information of interest to the community
• Information may not be reliable
• Tends to be transitory in nature
• Community has both input and control of information flow

My thought: A community-based resource is a resource that includes info created and used by/within the community itself. The reference-based resources are published works by academics and experts (and authoritative sites, for example) while community-based might be sites online where the community gather and interact: social media sites, etc.

Note the featured image. I tested the chart above with one of my fascinations: the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and specifically the submarine Nautilus. Allow me to geek out bit and tell you the pic is of my very own limited edition Nautilus purchased from Japan a few years ago. I found out about it via an information community I participate in devoted to the sub! So, the examples I might use to “test” the above is this. Can you tell which is which?

  • The threads about the Japanese limited edition model on the Nautilus Fan Site, where members shared what they knew about it as well as all the other threads devoted to the making of the movies, etc.
  • Entries on the film, the visuals, and Harper Goff, the designer of the Nautilus for 20K, in a book published all about great special effects in science fiction films.

A loaded question! But does that make sense?


21 thoughts on “Research-Based vs Community-based – Thoughts?

  1. Samia Khattab Williams

    Thanks @michael for sharing this distinction between the two resources. Yes, it’s clear which is which from your examples. And thanks for giving us a window into your geekiness 🙂

  2. Dorianne Shaffer

    I’m actually struggling with this when looking at professional and academic conferences. They screen presenters and the content presented is often rigorously researched and shared from an expert to a listener. However there are a lot of aspects that feel very community based like discussion forums, networking events, and informal meetups. Are they more information grounds than sources? I’ve already gone with non-conference sources but I’m still curious.

    1. Michael Stephens Post author

      @dshaffer Yes – research-based sources are published — monographs, encyclopedias, databases, etc. – usually from an authoritative source.

      I would not say a conference is a research-based source but proceedings published after the conference of peer reviewed papers would be.

      Does that help? 🙂

  3. Alice He

    I was able to identify and get a research-based resourced, but I’m having a of trouble finding a community-based one. Would subreddit be a good example of a community source?

  4. Timothy Davis

    This post was very helpful. I now realize that most of the sources I have tapped for my information community analysis are research-based. I need to seek out more user-generated community-based sources. Thanks @michael!

  5. Briana Herrod

    I’m struggling with how authoritative of a source an encyclopedia of knitting needs to be. I can find plenty of books with that title, but it is still just the author’s information on knitting. However, they cover a wide variety of information from tools, types of yarn to patterns. Is that enough? I think I have the opposite concern of others in the class, it feels too community based.

  6. Teng Xiong

    Hello Prof so far I have this listed as my research based community:, Which is several peer reviewed articles based on game studies.

    For the community im confused as to use say a forum website hosted by game developers “League of legends”

    Or would something like a players guide be more suitable? This site is operated primarily by the “League of legends” fan community who writes players guides and everything that happens in the League of legends world.

    Thoughts please

  7. Zephorah Dove

    If I’m focusing on English Language Learners (ELL), would the application/website Duolingo/Rosetta Stone count as a research based source? I chose a subreddit for the ELL community as the community-based part but I got a bit confused when thinking about what could fit the role for the research based part.

    If not Duolingo/Rosetta Stone, would an English learning textbook count? They’re both researched and require multiple academics/experts to look into it.

    Thank you!

      1. Michael Stephens Post author

        @zephsmeffie This is a great question. I like the Duolingo angle but my concern is we’re thinking of fomsthing that might be available through a library. A language text might be a “safer” choice, but if you want to write up a language learning tool like Duolingo, that’s cool.

        1. Zephorah Dove

          Hm, one of the libraries I work at offers free access to something similar to Duolingo called Pronunciator- I could use that instead of Duolingo since it’s library funded and only requires a library card number to access. My only hesitance with using the language text was that many of the ones I’ve seen at the library are “out of date”.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.