Types of Resources Print and Electronic Carteret Community College Library Content by Tara Guthrie
Why is it important to know the difference between different types of resources? You will find different kinds of information in different resources. You do not want to waste time searching for a resource that will not give you the information you need.
There are 2 types of print sources: Primary Sources Secondary Sources
What is a Primary Source? Original information when it first appears or first happens that is unedited. Examples of Primary Sources: Interviews - Debates & Discussions Letters - Surveys Events - Historical documents Speeches - Artifacts Manuscripts - E-mail contact Community Meeting - Photograph Diaries, personal journals, and blogs
What is a Secondary Source? Edited or interpreted primary sources. These are re-packaged versions of the actual event or document. Examples of Secondary Sources: Books - TV documentaries Encyclopedias - Photographs Reference materials - CD-ROM Periodicals - Web sites & wikis Audio & Video materials
Tips on Primary and Secondary Sources: Sometimes a type of source can be either primary or secondary. For example, a video might be raw news footage of an event (making it a primary source) or a documentary or recreation (making it secondary). The content determines which type of source it is. Most information you will find in a library will be secondary sources. Some libraries contain special collections that include primary sources (local history documents, the unpublished papers of a well-known individual, etc.). Primary sources may also be available online (scans of census records, Civil War letters, unedited streaming video of speeches or events, etc.). Be sure a source is original information that is unedited and un-interpreted to verify that it is a primary source.
There are also many different formats of sources. The list below offers some of the most commonly encountered formats. Formats of Sources Print (books, periodicals, documents) Audio (tapes, CDs) Video (VHS tapes, DVDs) Visual (photographs, slides) Microform (microfilm, microfiche) 3-Dimensional (globes, artifacts) Electronic (e-books, Internet, research databases, PDF files, MP3 files)
Tips on Formats of Sources
The same information can be available in more than one format!
Primary sources can be available in electronic format so that more people have access to the sources without damaging the original source or traveling far to see it. (Primary sources are also more rare than secondary sources.)
Secondary sources can be available in electronic format so that more people have access to the sources for convenience.
Accessis the key!
Types of Print Secondary Sources in the Library: Books Reference Books Periodicals
Books Books give you in-depth information on a topic. Books are good sources for information that happened in the past, or interpretive information for an on-going event or problem. It takes a long time to compile all the information for a book and then to publish it. So books will not have information on events that recently happened.
Tip: It’s usually a good idea to begin your research with an encyclopedia in order to get general background information on your subject! Types of Reference Books: General Encyclopedias Subject Encyclopedias Dictionaries & Thesauri Almanacs & Yearbooks Handbooks & Manuals Indexes & Bibliographies Atlases
Periodicals Periodicals are published on a regular basis (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) Since they are published more frequently, they will have more current information than you will find in books or encyclopedias. The more frequently it is published, the more current the information is. Periodicals are excellent for researching current events. However, since periodical articles are far shorter than books, the information will not be as in-depth as what you’d find a book.
Types of Periodicals: Newspapers Magazines Scholarly Journals
Newspapers Present the main facts or hi-lights of an event. Are usually published close to the time of the actual event (depending on how often the newspaper is printed). Articles are usually short and to the point, while magazines and scholarly journals give a little more detail. Are usually published more frequently than a magazine or scholarly journal.
When you begin a research paper, your instructor may require that you use “scholarly” or “peer-reviewed” journals (they’re the same thing), rather than popular magazines. You’ll learn more about the differences between them later on. Just be aware for now that it can be an important distinction. Magazine vs. Scholarly Journal Magazines are intended for general interest reading, not scholarly research. Scholarly journals are written by professors, researchers, or other experts in a specific subject area.
You’ll notice below that the magazines are all titles you’d expect to find at Barnes & Noble. The scholarly journals have far less commercial appeal, so you’ll generally only see them in academic libraries. Examples of magazines and scholarly journals. Magazines:
NC Law Review
Community College Journal
New England Journal of Medicine
Indexes Indexes help you locate information by allowing you to search large collections of information using simple keywords. For example, the library catalog is an index of all the materials that are physically located within the library. It helps you find books and audio/visual materials in the library. Some web sites may have a site index to help you find information on their particular web page.
Search Engines Search engines are a type of index that help you find other web sites on the Internet. Once you find a web site, you will need to evaluate it carefully. Remember: anyone can put anything on the Internet! Examples of Search Engines: Google Bing Yahoo!
Wikis and Blogs: Becarefulwhen using wikis and blogs for research. Evaluate them closely and consider who is contributing the information(and why). Is the contributor a professional or a scholar in the field? Or just some guy on the Internet? Who is the information intended for? Other professionals? Or just anyone? On Wikipedia, take a look at the Discussion and the History tabs within an article to see more information about how and why an article was written. You may find that certain facts in the article are disputed or dubiously sourced.
You’re going to hear about databases a lot in academic libraries. The simplest way to think about a library database is as a massive, searchable collection of electronic articles. Databases Databases combine index searching with access to a huge digital collection of articles, images, and more. Content within a database has been reviewed and edited by professionals and scholars, so the information is usually high-quality and reliable. Students at CCC can access library databases by going to NC LIVE. SIRS Researcher is another database available to CCC students.
Why do I need to know all of this? Now that you know what types of resources are out there, you will be able to recognize them when you begin your research. You will also know which resources to try searching first since you know what information can be found in each. Or you will know which resources will not give you the information you need.