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What Are Information Sources? 2003 version


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  • 1. LIB 640 Information Sources and Services Summer 2009 What are Information Sources?
  • 2. 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 July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 3. 3 What about reference sources? reference source • Any publication from which authoritative information can be obtained, including but not limited to reference books, catalog records, printed indexes 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. July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 4. 4 And reference books? reference book • A book designed to be consulted when authoritative information 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 multivolume sets, with any indexes in the last volume. Reference works that require continuous updating may be published serially, sometimes as loose-leaf services. July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 5. 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? By Bobbie Neate July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 6. 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? July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 7. 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? July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 8. 8 Arrangement of Reference Books • Southern Ontario Library Service -- Sourcebooks July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 9. 9 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-word Bookcase Book club Book club Book fair Bookend Bookcase Book fair Bookend • Glossary Of Library and Research Terms Introduction to Library Research July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 10. 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 or Biography Index. • Introduction to Writing Research Papers, IV. Evaluating Print and Electronic Sources July 1, 2009
  • 11. 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 July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 12. 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 • July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 13. 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 • July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 14. 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. • July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 15. 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. • July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 16. 16 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 ] July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 17. 17 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. • Biographies • Commentaries • Dissertations • Indexes, Abstracts, Bibliographies (used to locate primary & secondary sources) • Journal Articles • Monographs July 1, 2009 Information Resources
  • 18. 18 What about Tertiary Sources? Tertiary Sources • Tertiary sources consist of information which is a distillation and collection of primary and secondary sources. You’ll find some • Almanacs differences in • Encyclopedias interpretation about these examples. Some consider • Fact books encyclopedias secondary sources. See this guide from James Cook University, for example. July 1, 2009 Information Resources