Module 3: Evaluating Info Need

Books, articles, and websites all are examples of resources you might need for your research. But these information sources differ in several ways:

  1. Currency - How up-to-date is this information?
  2. Coverage - How comprehensive is this information?
  3. Authority - How trustworthy is this information?

There is no single tool to find all these things - books, articles and websites.

Source type Best for... Examples
Reference Books (encyclopedias, etc) general background on a topic; facts Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society; Encyclopedia of American History
Books in-depth information on a topic; historical information Culinary fictions: food in South Asian diasporic culture; Harnessing America's wasted talent: a new ecology of learning
Newspapers current events New York Times; Wall Street Journal
Magazines general interest articles for a wide audience, current events, popular culture Time; Economist; New Yorker
Scholarly journals in-depth research on a topic, written for other scholars in a field Literature and History; Public Health
Trade publications general interest articles for members of a particular profession Advertising Age; APA Monitor
Websites current information, popular culture, government information,
Search tool Use for...
Library catalog Finding books, DVDs, etc. that the library owns
Article databases Finding newspaper, magazine, trade publications, and scholarly journal articles
Search engine Finding websites

For more details on currency for these types of sources, view this Info Timeline:

For help guiding you through the research process, use our Assignment Calculator: