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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
PACE: Deciding on Sources 
Professors want you to use a variety of resources because each type of source is different.
Books Periodicals
Books provide a lot of information about your topic. They take longer from the time they are written to when they are published, than periodicals do. Due to this delay, there may not be many books written about very recent topics. Periodicals are published faster than books, but peer-reviewed articles take longer than articles in magazines. Check out the Periodical Review Sheet for more details about the three main categories of periodicals.
Newspapers Internet
Most commonly published on a daily (or weekly) basis, newspapers are the most up-to-date source of information. Be careful though, the authors are likely not professionals in the subject they are writing about. Newspapers are not considered "academic" sources. Websites can be great sources of current information on a wide variety of topics including company information, statistics, organizations, etc... However, you must be certain that the websites you use are reputable. Click for help Evaluating Internet Sources

For many assignments, your professor will tell you which types sources you must use for your research. For example, the instructions may say something like you need 5 magazine articles, 3 peer-reviewed journal articles, 2 books, and one website.

It's important to note, that usually these requirements are the minimum required sources. Unless they specifically state that you must only use their exact requirements, professors will not be angry with you, or penalize you, if you use more than the required numbers for each type of source. They will probably rejoice.

Evaluating Information

You will quickly discover that the faculty's expectations of the information resources you use will be at a much higher level than you have probably encountered in the past. Evaluating the quality and applicability of the information you retrieve will become your responsibility.

If the articles you find are available electronically in full text, click Recognizing Periodical Types Online, for help distinguishing between the three categories. It can be a little harder when you're not holding the periodical in your hand.

Use the links in the chart above for help in evaluating periodicals and websites. If you have other questions, please feel free to ask your professor or a librarian.

PACE Resources main page

Go back to Gathering Background Information

Move on to Finding Books, Articles, and Internet Resources

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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL