Types of Resources
Different types of information sources have different types of value for information seekers. It is important to know what kind of sources to use when, and to be able to identify the types of resources that you need. We've listed some different types of literature that you may be required to find for various classes and assignments, and we offer a little explanation of what the terms mean. All of these literature types have value, but you will be required to distinguish between them and find the right kind of information for different types of information needs.
- Written by scholars to communicate information with other scholars in the same field or discipline
- Scholarly affiliations of experts usually listed
- Often includes specialized language used by scholars in the field
- Produced in a standard, formal format
- Edited by editors with scholarly credentials
- Includes references to literature consulted by authors
- When images are present, they are usually graphs or charts, or other images visually representing the information presented in the article
- Often peer-reviewed
- Is it Scholarly? (Handout)
Peer Reviewed literature
- Scholarly literature that is reviewed and vetted by fellow experts in the field prior to publication
- If literature doesn't pass muster among peer-review board, the article won't be published
- "Refereed" means the same thing as peer reviewed
- Ulrich's Periodicals Directory (aka Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory, aka Ulrich's) is a tool that quickly tells whether a journal that an article appears in is peer reviewed
- A first description of original research conducted by authors
- The first place new scholarship is published
- A scholarly article that describes original research for the first time is considered to be primary.
- Literature that synthesizes information produced in primary literature (ex: textbooks)
- Information further distilled from primary and secondary formats (ex: encyclopedias, wikipedia)
- Written by journalists or other writers who aren't required to have expertise in the subject area
- Written for a general audience
- Not peer-reviewed
- Rarely includes specialized language; no familiarity with disciplinary vocabulary is required for comprehension
- Edited by editors who do not require scholarly credentials
- Rarely includes references to literature consulted
- Often contain graphics that elevate the visual experience of the reader, but do not necessarily describe the information presented in the article
For any resource
Consider the source
What are the credentials of the authors?
Do the authors have a bias or agenda? Is the bias transparent?
Do you need current literature?