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Research: Getting Started

Choosing the Best Resources - Watch the Video

Differences Between Types of Resources

It can be tough to decide what type of resources to use to complete an assignment. You have to choose between books, scholarly articles, popular articles, and web pages. 

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Books

Books provide in-depth information about a topic and are usually great sources for research; however, you may not always want to use books.

ProsContent in books has been reviewed by editors and all books available at MATC Libraries have been selected by professional librarians. Information found in books at the libraries is usually very reliable.

ConsThe publishing process for books takes time, so they are not always the best sources for current events and hot topics.

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Scholarly Journals (Articles)

Scholarly articles are primary resources for academic assignments and often provide very specific information on a topic.

ProsThe articles in scholarly journals go through a peer review process, which means they have been checked over and given a stamp of approval by experts and scholars of a field.

ConsArticles in scholarly articles are not geared toward general interests; they are more focused on academic topics. Also, the peer review process takes time, so scholarly articles are not always the best sources for current events. 

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Popular Articles

Popular articles provide information geared toward general interests and current events.

ProsPopular articles are great sources of information on current events, news, trends, and hot topics. Since articles in magazines and newspapers have to be approved by an editor, they are usually more reliable than information found on Web sites.

ConsArticles from popular magazines have not undergone a peer review process and are not backed by intensive research. Popular articles do not usually include a list of references so it can be difficult to find out where the author found their information. They are typically written by journalists who are not subject matter experts or researchers, and because they are written for a general audience, they can contain bias. 

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Web Sites

The web allows you to access most types of information on the Internet through a browser. One of the main features of the Web is the ability to quickly link to other related information. Web sites contain information beyond plain text, including sounds, images and video. 

ProsProvide current information about events, news, and trends. A lot of government websites, think tanks, and special interest organizations post statistics, reports, and articles to the Web.

ConsAnyone can publish to the Web, information found on Web sites is very often biased or inaccurate. It can be difficult to determine the quality of information found on the Web - you have to work harder to scrutinize it. Scholarly information is rarely available for free on the open Web.

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