LIB 640 Information Sources and ServicesSummer 2011 What are Information Sources?
June 16, 2011 Information Resources 2 What are information sources? Information sources Each item of information is created in context to its originator's purpose, whether it was to inform, entertain, or educate and its quality and value depends on the information need Glossary
June 16, 2011 Information Resources 3 What about reference sources? reference source Any publication from which authoritativeinformation can be obtained, including but not limited to reference books, catalog records, printedindexes and abstracting services, and bibliographic databases. Individuals and services outside the library that can be relied upon to provide authoritative information are considered resources for referral.
June 16, 2011 Information Resources 4 And reference books? reference book A book designed to be consulted when authoritativeinformation is needed, rather than read cover to cover. Reference books often consist of a series of signed or unsigned "entries" listed alphabetically under headwords or headings, or in some other arrangement (classified, numeric, etc.). The category includes almanacs, atlases, bibliographies, biographical sources, catalogs, concordances, dictionaries, directories, discographies and filmographies, encyclopedias, glossaries, handbooks, indexes, manuals, research guides, union lists, yearbooks, etc., whether published commercially or as government documents. Long reference works may be issued in multivolumesets, with any indexes in the last volume. Reference works that require continuous updating may be published serially, sometimes as loose-leaf services.
June 16, 2011 Information Resources 5 Another way to look at it What are reference books? They are those we ‘refer’ to. Referring is a very similar to the strategy of scanning. We use a reference book just to look up the odd fact or confirm a supposition. Look at the design of reference books - e.g. the Reference Book of Water and Weather and the Encyclopaedia of British Wild Animals. They are laid out so that the reader can very quickly access information. You do not read an encyclopaedia from cover to cover - you think what you want to know and then search for one very small area of text. Teaching Non-fiction?: Reading Reference Books By Bobbie Neate
June 16, 2011 Information Resources 6 Know your reference books When you pick up a reference book: Note the author and publisher, and perhaps the author's credentials. Check the copyright date. Given the type of information the tool covers, is it likely to be current enough? What is the purpose and scope of the book (check for preface)? Review the table of contents. What is the scope of the material? Is it biased toward one viewpoint? Review the index (if there is none, is that a significant drawback?). What approaches does the index use?
June 16, 2011 Information Resources 7 More know your books Page through to see what special features may be there. Are there photos? Charts and graphs? Appendices? What is the level of the book? Who is the intended audience? Make up a short “test” for the book. Think up some questions that you feel, based on the review you've done, that the book should be able to answer. Does it? Has anyone else on the staff had experience with this book? How do they feel about it?
June 16, 2011 Information Resources 8 Arrangement of Reference Books
Southern Ontario Library Service -- Sourcebooks
Alphabetical order There are two methods of alphabetizing. The letter-by-letter system ignores punctuation and spaces between words. The word-by-word system organizes by the first word, then the second word, and so on. Here is an example: Letter-by-letter Word-by-wordBookcase Book club Book club Book fair Bookend Bookcase Book fair Bookend Glossary Of Library and Research Terms Introduction to Library Research June 16, 2011 Information Resources 9
June 16, 2011 10 Evaluating print sources Is the information recent? Select up-to-date, current information unless you are conducting historical research. This is particularly true in the sciences. Did an expert in the field prepare the information? Look for the author's credentials and affiliations. For citations to biographical material about an author, consult a biographical source, such as Biography and Genealogy Master Index, Contemporary Authors orBiography Index. Introduction to Writing Research Papers, IV. Evaluating Print and Electronic Sources
June 16, 2011 Information Resources 11 More evaluation guidelines Is the information from a reliable source? Choose information from a scholarly journal (Finding Scholarly Journals) or from a book published by a reputable publisher. Choose books that have received favorable reviews. Consult one of these indexes for citations to reviews: Book Review Index, Book Review Digest, Index to Book Reviews in the Humanities, Children’s Book Review Index, and Balay’s Guide to Reference Books. Does the writer seem to be represent material fairly and accurately? All argument shows bias because it attempts to persuade or influence its audience. However, guard against using information that seems unreasonably or unfairly biased. Who is the intended audience? Is the information for a specialized or general audience? Adapted from Evaluating Print and Electronic Sources
June 16, 2011 Information Resources 12 Critical Evaluation of Resources How do you make sense of what is out there and evaluate its authority and appropriateness for your research? Suitability Authority Other indicators http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Evaluation.html
June 16, 2011 Information Resources 13 Suitability Scope What is the breadth of the article, book, website or other material? Audience Who is the intended audience for this source? Timeliness When was the source published? Scholarly vs. Popular http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Evaluation.html
June 16, 2011 Information Resources 14 Authority Who is the author? What are his or her credentials? Sometimes information about the author is listed somewhere in the article. Other times, you may need to consult another resource to get background information on the author. Sometimes it helps to search the author’s name in a general web search engine like Google. http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Evaluation.html
June 16, 2011 Information Resources 15 Other indicators Documentation A bibliography, along with footnotes, indicate that the author has consulted other sources and serves to authenticate the information that he or she is presenting. Objectivity What point of view does the author represent? Primary vs. secondary research In determining the appropriateness of a resource, it may be helpful to determine whether it is primary research or secondary research. http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Evaluation.html
Distinguish Between Primary and Secondary Sources Primary Sources Primary sources are original materials. They are from the time period involved and have not been filtered through interpretation. [For a list of examples, see http://www.lib.umd.edu/guides/primary-sources.html#primary ] June 16, 2011 Information Resources 16
Distinguish Between Primary and Secondary Sources Secondary Sources Secondary sources are accounts written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. They are interpretations and evaluations of primary sources. Secondary sources are not evidence, but rather commentary on and discussion of evidence. June 16, 2011 Information Resources 17
What about Tertiary Sources? Tertiary Sources Tertiary sources consist of information which is a distillation and collection of primary and secondary sources. Almanacs Encyclopedias Fact books June 16, 2011 Information Resources 18 You’ll find some differences in interpretation about these examples. Some consider encyclopedias secondary sources. See this guide from the University of Illinois, for example.