Skip to main content



English 102 Library Instruction: Information Formats

Know Your Sources

Reference Works

Description: 

Reference works include encyclopedias, dictionaries, chronologies, handbooks, and indexes.  These sources can be helpful in providing an overview of topics when you are beginning your research. Call numbers beginning with Ref are in the reference section and cannot be checked out. Most are found on the 1st floor of the library.

Starting Points:

Books

Description:

Books can vary greatly in content and organization.  In general, books provide in-depth coverage of a topic.  They may be authored by one person, a group of people, or be comprised of chapters written by individuals.  Most books contain a table of contents, bibliography (reference list), and index.  Ebooks and print books can be found by searching our library catalog.  Print books are located on the 2nd - 4th floor of the library.   

Starting Points:

   

Government Documents

Description:

"Government documents" is a broad term used to describe any information produced by a government agency.  These documents can come in a variety of formats (databases, books, pamphlets, posters, periodicals, microform, etc.). The University of Idaho Library is a Federal Depository, which means we have a vast collection of government documents.  Much of the print collection can be accessed with the help of a librarian or by visiting our maps room on the first floor.  There is also a collection of reference materials for government documents located next to the main reference collection.

Starting Points:

Primary & Secondary Sources

Description:

Primary sources are first-hand accounts written or created during the time of study.  These can include text (diaries, speeches, official documents, manuscripts), audiovisual materials (film footage, interviews, songs), images (film footage, art, photographs, paintings, advertisements), or artifacts (coins, clothing, and sculpture). 

A secondary source is anything that interprets or analyzes a primary source.  These sources include publications (textbooks, magazines, articles, criticism, commentaries, histories, encyclopedias).  Secondary sources may contain primary sources within them, such as a book with an original image or a journal article with a diary excerpt.

Starting Points:

Scholarly Journals

Description:

Scholarly journals are comprised of articles written by experts in a particular field.  These articles are a result of research or inquiry and often go through a peer review (refereed) process.  Journals can be found in both print and electronic formats.  Print journals are located on the second floor of the library with call numbers beginning with Per.  Electronic journals can be found on the library website.

Starting Points: 

  • Searching a topic?  Try the library databases.
  • Searching for a particular journal?  Try the journals tab.
 

Popular Magazines

Description:

Popular magazines are written for the general public.  They are often glossy and full of colorful, engaging images.  Advertisements are also very common, as they are a major source of profit for the magazine.  Articles are often authored by journalists or professional writers.  They have very few citations and do not go through a peer review process.

Starting Points:

  • Search the library catalog or library databases to find magazine articles.
  • Searching for a particular magazine?  Try the journals tab.
  • Certain magazines can also be found on the second floor of the library.

Newspapers & News Media

Description:

Newspapers and other news media provide current information about topics.  News articles are written by journalists or professional writers for the general public.  Stories are often public interest, commentaries, or recent or important events.  Other sources, though mentioned, are rarely cited.  News media often provides the fastest coverage on current topics.     

Starting Points:

  • Print and microform newspapers can be found on the second floor of the library.
  • Electronic newspapers can be found in our databases under the subject "Newspaper".
  • Try searching our newspaper and news sources guide for additional resources and contact information.
  • Searching for a particular newspaper?  Try our library catalog.

Websites

Description:

The Internet can be a great source of information, but remember anyone can post information.  Websites do not have the same standards for accuracy and trustworthiness as journals and books.  If you decide to use a web resource, remember to critically evaluate the page before trusting the information given.  Give it the CRAAP test!  Check the currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose.  

Starting Points:

Trade Journals

Description:

Trade journals are written for people working in a particular industry or profession.  There are usually some images and advertisements. Advertisements are related to the target profession of the trade publication. Articles are frequently authored by professionals in the field and may contain some citations, but do not go through a peer review process.

Starting Points:

  • Search the library catalog or library databases to find trade articles.
  • Searching for a particular trade journal?  Try the journals tab.
  • Certain trade journals can also be found on the second floor of the library.