Use and Organize My Information
What Materials Should I Use?
Books vs Journal Articles
|Lengthy coverage||Short packet of information|
|Lots of detail and explanation, both general and specific||Focuses on a well-defined topic, usually very specifically|
|Provides overviews, summaries, introductions||Limited context--cites sources to provide background|
|Slow publication (compared to journals)--Not "current" information||Fast publication (compared to books)|
|Scholarly or non-scholarly works||Scholarly or non-scholarly articles|
It's a great tool, but using the Web as a universal application is like using duct tape as a universal repair product--it may "work" but you usually could have done it better.
- Current news, including weather, politics, conflicts, crime, etc.
- "Finding" people, businesses, organizations, etc.
- Social networking and communication Recreation--Sports, entertainment, movies, music, etc.
- Information from state and U.S. governments
- Special interests--A grab-bag of hobbies, fringe social movements, and specialized areas of research.
- Open access e-publications
- Materials in libraries and museums
- Is not the sum of all human knowledge--There's stil a lot out there in print.
- Here today, gone tomorrow nature of many web pages
- Unsigned, undated work--Difficult to prove authority and accuracy.
- Lack of openly available scholarly content--The content's there but you have to subscribe, be a member, etc.
- "Hidden" content--Web search engines don't reach everywhere.
If you need:
- Definitions, brief explanations, concepts--Use dictionaries and encyclopedias.
- The most recent information available--Use journal articles and the Web.
- Authoritative information--Use scholarly journals and books, or authoritative websites.
- Formulas, constants, numerical values, statistics--Use handbooks.
- To trace a concept or research over time--Use journal articles and review books.
- Explanations, examples--Use textbooks.
- How much information do you need? For a short paper, journal articles or book chapters may be more helpful.
- What's your deadline? You may not have time to read hundreds of pages.
- Do you need current information, or older?
- Do you need scholarly sources? Authoritative? Opinionated?
Scholarly Checklist--Look for:
- Authors listed, with credentials
- Bibliography or works cited
- Reviewed by peers or experts in the subject, and published by a reputable publisher
- Purpose is to inform or impart knowledge, not to sell, persuade, entertain
- Appears impartial--no advertisements, emotional language, bias
- Includes data, observations, statistics, or graphics to support conclusions
Authoritative--A source can have authority even if it isn't scholarly.
- Author and/or publisher is an expert on the subject, for example
- Manufacturer's catalogs
- Legal or regulatory information
- Autobiographical works or personal accounts of events (to some degree)
Credible--If you want to dig deeper:
- Do you see errors in spelling, grammar, data?
- Are the sources being cited in the publication themselves scholarly or authoritative?
- Is the publication in turn cited by other credible works published later?