Hatch Library Guide Information Sources Considered
Research Made Simple • Match the information need – your topic -- with appropriate, reliable sources • Books • Newspapers • Magazines • Journals • Websites • Other
What kind of information do you need? Historical? Current? Scholarly? Popular? Brief? In-depth? Background? Statistics?
Define the type of information you need Consider which type of source will be most relevant and accurate Consider the requirements of your assignment Book? Newspaper? Magazine? Scholarly Journal? Website? Selecting Sources
The Beauty of Books • Books offer • Great background information • Overviews • Context & scope • Authority • editors & publishers • User friendly formats • print • electronic
Consider Reference Books! • Throughout the research process, reference books can clarify, define, and provide vital background information • General encyclopedias • Specialized encyclopedias • Dictionaries • Almanacs • Directories • Gazetteers • Atlases
Beyond Wikipedia • Specialized Encyclopedias • Also known as subject encyclopedias • Often have scholarly articles written by experts • Good for finding topics, getting overviews • Electronic Reference Sources • Usually have a print counterpart • You can find these in the library catalog, or in the Research Database by Subject list under Reference
Periodicals • Periodicals: publications that appear periodically • Types of Periodicals • Newspapers • Magazines • Trade magazines • Journals
Newspapers • Written for a general audience • Reporters and journalists are often generalists, not specialists • Offer very current information • Editors check facts, but because of quick turn-around, information may contain errors • May provide primary source materials • For example: interviews; advertisements from the 1920s • Major U.S. papers include the New York Times, Wall Street Journal– available at Hatch in e-format & print
Provide excellent secondary source material Great for current information Magazines offer a more popular approach – e.g., Parents Magazine Journals articles offer a more scholarly approach e.g., Journal of Marriage and the Family Magazines and Journals
Journals v. Magazines • Journals • Target audience: academics, professionals, researchers • Publishers: professional associations, universities • Writers: scholars, researchers, specialists, experts • Purpose: distribute scholarly information • Magazines • Target audience: general public • Publishers: companies • Writers: generalists, journalists, professional writers • Purpose: entertain, inform, make a profit
Current information Popular topics: What’s hot in kitchen gardens this year: get some spice in your life with peppers Topics try to appeal to a wide range of readers General discussion Good for overviews or starting points Current research Specialized topics: The impact of the long-horned beetle on maple trees in the 1990s Often topics have narrow focus, special readership Detailed examination Good for cutting-edge ideas Magazines Journals
Distinctions Among Magazines • Substantive General Interest • Aimed at an educated readership • Examples: • Scientific American • New Yorker • Trade Magazines • Cover a particular industry or field • Examples: • OT Practice (about occupational therapy) • National Paralegal Reporter (for paralegal professionals)
Distinctions Among Journals • Peer-Reviewed Journals or Refereed Journals • Undergo an editorial process called “peer review” • Scholars, academics, or professionals -- sometimes called “referees” -- review articles submitted to these journals for suitability for publication • Some journals are considered more distinguished or core journals in their fields • For example, APA journals in psychology
How can you tell if a journal is refereed? • See if the journal turns up if you limit your database search to “peer-reviewed” or “refereed” journals • Check the journal’s or publisher’s website, the journal’s inside cover, or the journal’s submission guidelines on the web • Check the reference book Magazines for Libraries • Ask a librarian for help
How can you tell if an online article is scholarly? • Look for citations throughout the article • Look for a list of references at the end of the article • Determine if the language is formal, technical or discipline-specific • Look for charts & graphs
Evaluating Periodicals • Remember: there is a range of publications • Different target audiences • Different content • Different purpose • Consider your audience • Psychology Professor? A research article • OT client? An article in a health magazine • Paralegals? An article in a trade magazine
Government information Statistics Informational brochures Primary sources Company homepages Digital archives Virtual libraries Reference materials News International newspapers Academic sites Professionalinformation Association homepages Professional listservs Online exhibits & tutorials Universities, libraries, museums What’s so great about the Web?
Information on the Internet comes from a variety of sources. There are often no editorial boards or publishers screening Web content! Consumers of all information, particularly from the web, must be critical of sources and evaluate all information. Be Web Aware…
Books, Videos Articles NewspapersJournals Magazines Websites Online Catalogs Library Research Databases Search Engines & Subject Directories How Do I Find These Sources?
Like a river, information starts in one place, and ends up in another Where information is in its journey -- and how people use it -- determines whether it is considered to be a Primary source Secondary source Tertiary source
The Flow of Information • The Flow of Information from the UCLA College Library illustrates how information is created once an event occurs • Information sources about the event • start out being primary • then become secondary • and finally become tertiary
Primary Sources • Original writings or records • “Firsthand” documents • Are not interpreted • Example: a diary • May not be published • Often add originality and interest to research
Diaries Letters Memoirs Autobiographies Songs from a historical period Speeches Interviews Photographs of an event Videos of an event Newspaper ads or articles from a historical period Artifacts (furniture, recipes, memorabilia) Records (birth certificates, tax records, property deeds, census data) Manuscripts (the Declaration of Independence) Original research reports in scientific journals Company home pages, memos, reports Primary Sources May Be:
Secondary Sources • Restate, evaluate,interpret, or analyze primary source documents or the research of others • Often argue a particular viewpoint • Are often published by scholars in academic publications • Many nonfiction books and articles that explore or interpret a topic are secondary sources • Example: a college research paper • Example: a book about global warming
Tertiary Sources • Tertiary sources organize, summarize, or condense secondary sources of information • These sources point to other sources of information • Many reference books fit into this category • Examples: bibliographies, indexes
Consider how you are using the source – context is important. A biography of Sylvia Plath is a generally considered to be a secondary source. If you are studying approaches to writing biography, though, the very same biography of Plath could become a primary source. Consider the academic field you are writing in – different rules apply. In some sciences, an original research study reported in a journal is considered to be a primary source. In history, a research study on early manuscripts is considered to be a secondary source – the manuscripts are primary sources. How can you tell if a source is primary or secondary?
Primary? … Secondary? • Both types of sources can be useful in college research papers • Primary sources may seem more difficult to find, but they can add depth and interest to your research • Secondary sources can provide informed opinions or information
Sources: making connections • Research builds on the ideas of others • Use a variety of information sources to explore your research question • Primary, secondary, tertiary • Books, journals, substantive magazines, newspapers • Good sources of information lead to better research, better papers
Considering information sources carefully can help make creative research connections To learn more, see the following Hatch Library Handouts • Scholarly vs. Popular Sources • Evaluating Articles • Citing Sources HATCH LIBRAY BAYPATH COLLEGE CREATED 2000 MH; REVISED 11/09