Let's take a closer look at the differences between the types of publications you might find. In an online environment, it can be tricky to know what type of source you are using. Being aware of different types of sources is still very important as different publications suit different purposes and provide different kinds of information.
To better understand what type of source would be most appropriate for your assignments, watch this short video:
NOTE: Some assignments may require a specific type of source, while other assignments might ask you to include a variety of sources. Either way, be sure to read your assignment carefully and follow instructions on how many or what kind of sources to use.
Great for full discussions of topics or to orient yourself to a subject area. In some cases, you may find even just one chapter useful.
Includes encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, handbooks, etc. Reference books provide factual information and concise descriptions of often complex concepts. An excellent place to start your research.
Provide comprehensive coverage on the background and implications of a topic, theory, or issue. They are often a synthesis of research and broad in scope. The author may or may not be an expert in the field. References listed at the end of the book provide a good indication of the validity of the material discussed.
Publications that are published on a regular basis – daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, seasonally, or yearly. Each issue of the publication has multiple articles, each written by a different author. Credibility and coverage vary by publication.
Summarize important events, developments, trends, and issues within a region, and are current. They are usually written for the general public, although some newspapers may be specific to a particular profession or industry. Authors may or may not have subject expertise.
Magazine Articles (Popular)
Are short discussions of topics of general interest. Usually written for the general public although are often targeted to certain populations. Authors may or may not have subject expertise.
Trade Magazine Articles
Summarize current trends and issues in a specific industry or trade. Articles are usually written by professionals and published by associations. Authors usually have some subject expertise.
Scholarly (Peer-reviewed) Journal Articles
Are primarily original research reports. Most scholarly journal articles are peer-reviewed -- which means they must go through an extra editorial process where other experts in the field evaluate the research and its findings for accuracy, reliability, and validity. To double-check if the periodical is peer-reviewed, go to the journal’s website and read the About Us section.
A variety of resources that can enhance your understanding of a topic, or add visual interest to a presentation.
Video recordings can be a great visual aid when learning about a topic or skill. Thousands of videos are available on the web through sites like YouTube. Be cautious when using videos from web sources in assignments or presentations. Authorship is often difficult to ascertain and copyright issues can be problematic.
Images are a great way to add visual impact to your assignments. Like video recordings, thousands of images are available on the web. Be cautious when using images from web sources in assignments since authorship is often difficult to ascertain and copyright and licensing issues can be problematic.