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Step 3: Reviewing Sources

Good researchers make use of more than one type of material and weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each type.

Books

Benefits:

  • In-depth coverage of topics.
  • Provide footnotes and bibliographies which lead to other sources of information.
  • Give you historical perspectives on topics.
  • Often provide case studies, statistics, facts, in-depth knowledge and authors' opinions.
  • Some are published online through such Library subscription services as NetLibrary; tables of contents, bibliographies and indexes can be searched and information obtained full-text.

Drawbacks:

  • Will not always contain the most current information. Magazine or journal articles are a better source for the most up-to-date information.


Periodicals

Benefits:

  • Shorter than books, can be read in less time.
  • Published frequently, so the information contained in them is usually up-to-date; especially important when you need the most current information.
  • Scholarly articles provide reliable information written by experts in the field.
  • Can often be found online, in full-text. (But to search them by subject, you need to use a database. See "Articles" resources tab under your subject.)

Drawbacks:

  • Need to be the right type of periodical for the topic: scholarly, trade, or popular. (If you are unsure about a periodical title, ask a Librarian for assistance or consult your instructor.)
  • Tend to feature very focused, in-depth information, will not help if you need the "big picture."


Newspapers

Benefits:

  • Very current information; newspapers are usually published daily or weekly.
  • Excellent sources of regional and local news.
  • Articles are usually short and easy to read.
  • Provide insight into events, trends, and issues as they become current in the news.
  • Articles often found online, in full-text. See Lexis/Nexis, also "Newpapers" resource tab under your subject.

Drawbacks:

  • Not usually considered scholarly resources.
  • For the most part, articles do not provide in-depth insight and information on subjects.
  • May reflect a political, economic, personal or social bias; learn to evaluate the information to discover its worth.
  • Advice on evaluating and choosing Web sites.


Web Sites

Benefits:

  • Often provides the most current information of any resource.
  • Can provide statistics, opinions, factual information. illustrations, tables, charts, photographs, maps and more.
  • Enormous amounts of government, educational, and institutional information can be found on the World Wide Web.
  • Search engines make Web sites easy to find...although you may get thousands of hits.
  • Your instructor may not permit you to use Web sites.  Better check to make sure!

Drawbacks:

 


Last Modified: Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009