Which sources should I use for my research?

Which Types of Sources Should I Use For My Research?

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of information sources that are available in the library will help you find and select the best sources for your research.   

Books and ebooks (Monographs)

  • Some books(dictionaries/encyclopedias) can provide excellent background information.
  • Some books can provide detailed analysis of topics.
  • Students can use the table of contents or index to locate relevant sections of a book.
  • Books can be found using the library catalog or the Search All tool

Periodicals

A periodical is a publication that is issued regularly and published at weekly, monthly, quarterly, or other intervals.  Periodicals range from technical and scholarly journals for professionals and scholars to magazines for the general public.

Periodical articles in the library collection can found in by using the Search All tool [http://www.pace.edu/library/#search_all] or by searching the library Databases [http://libguides.pace.edu/az.php].

There are several types of periodicals that are available from the library including:

Newspapers

  • Newspapers are good sources for current information or reports of events after they initially occurred.
  • Can be useful for a historical perspective or recent developments on a topic
  • The full-text of important speeches may also be available in a newspaper.
  • Most newspapers are published daily.

Magazines

  • Sometimes referred to as popular sources. Intended audience is the general public.
  • Magazines are good sources for overviews of current events and issues.
  • Articles will usually provide a broader, more general description of an issue or event.
  • Can be a good source for images.
  • Most magazines are published weekly or monthly.

Journals

  • Sometimes referred to as scholarly or academic sources
  • Intended for use by students and faculty conducting research in academia.
  • Journals can be published quarterly, biannually (twice a year), or annually (once a year).
  • These publications contain articles written by experts in a given field.
  • Journals include articles based on research and are often accompanied by an abstract and a bibliography listing sources used by the authors. 
  • Some journals focus on a particular field in general, such as The Quarterly Journal of Economics
  • Others may feature a very specialized topic of a subject or profession, such as The Journal of Labor Economics

Peer-reviewed Journals

  • Peer-Reviewed Journals are a type of Academic/Scholarly Journal that require articles to undergo a peer-review process prior to publication.
  • Articles submitted to a peer-reviewed journal are examined both by the editor and one or more specialists in the individual field before approval is given to publish. 
  • The objective of the reviewers (often called an editorial board) is to ensure a better chance that the final product will be a contribution to knowledge.
  • Contain narrowly focused research topics and technical language intended for readers with disciplinary knowledge.
  • Many of databases will allow you to limit your search results to include only articles from peer-reviewed journals.

Websites

Students must be careful when using websites as research sources because many websites lack credibility. Perform a careful analysis of any website you are considering as a source assessing the following criteria:

o   Currency: the timeliness of the information

§  Has the information been revised or updated?

§  Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?

o   Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

§  Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?

§  Who is the intended audience?

o   Authority: the source of the information

§  Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?

§  Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?

o   Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

§  Where does the information come from?

§  Is the information supported by evidence?

§  Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?

o   Purpose: the reason the information exists

§  What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?

§  Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?

§  Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?