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There many different sources out there that you could possibly use, but which ones are the best? Burritt Library gives you access to a large number of them. What you will use will depend on your information needs.
What is your professor requiring you to use? Something current or historical? Something scholarly and in-deptth such as a journal article or something shorter an easier to understand such as a magazine article? Or both? What about books or encyclopedias? You can always ask a librarian for help.
Please review the different types of sources on this page and watch the short videos.
Magazines: A magazine is a collection of articles and images about diverse topics of popular interest and current events. Usually these articles are written by journalists and are geared toward the average adult. Magazines may cover very "serious" material, but to find consistent scholarly information, you should use journals.
Journals: A journal is a collection of articles usually written by scholars in an academic or professional field. An editorial board reviews articles to decide whether they should be accepted. Articles in journals can cover very specific topics or narrow fields of research.
Books: Books cover virtually any topic, fact or fiction. For research purposes, you will probably be looking for books that synthesize all the information on one topic to support a particular argument or thesis. Libraries organize and store their book collections on shelves called "stacks."
Website: The Web allows you to access most types of information on the Internet through a browser. One of the main features of the Web is the ability to quickly link to other related information. The Web contains information beyond plain text, including sounds, images, and video.
The important thing to do when using information on the Internet is to know how to evaluate it!
Scholarly vs. Popular Sources
Popular sources such as magazines or newspaper articles are usually written by journalists or a staff person and are short in length and written for a lower education level. The information is second or third hand. Usually the information promotes a view point or may sell or advertise products, or entertain the reader. They rarely ever cite sources. They often contain photos, pictures or graphics.
Scholarly sources are usually written by experts in a field - someone with a PhD that is often doing original research. Scholarly source will always cite sources whether in bibliograpy or list of references, etc. Scholarly articles are usually very long, more than four pages. Scholarly journals often have a very serious look and often don't contain photos or flashy colors.