On Resources

As researchers and seekers of information, we depend on words, images, and other media created by others. Not all resources we encounter in the 21st century can be considered of equal worth. While differentiating “fact” and “opinion” cannot be done with reliability, researchers select information from some sources rather than others. This page identifies resources available to researchers:

Avoid using these in academic research

General Internet Sites:
Sites created by anonymous publishers or businesses or organizations are updated according to the whim of the author(s) and can be easily copied. Fact and opinion, fantasy and sarcasm are not clearly identifiable on these sites, so should be avoided.

Books and Periodicals of Dubious Origin:
Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, but it does allow individuals to write and publish any information they choose. Books, magazines, newspapers, or other resources published from unknown sources should be avoided. If the claims made in the resources are extreme, then be suspicious. Emerging researchers are encouraged to seek the advice of librarians and other experienced researchers for guidance in identifying dubious sources.

Useful for identifying research problems

Secondary Periodicals:
Newspapers, magazines, and trade publications in which the articles are authored by journalists or other experts tend to arise from reputable sources. These are edited by professionals who hold authors to high standards of accuracy.

While these tend to comprise accurate information (studies have shown Wikipedia contains about the same number of inaccuracies as printed encyclopedia and textbooks), they tend to report only information that is very well-established.

Books from Credible Sources:
Well-referenced and edited non-fiction books can be very useful for clarifying research problems.

The foundation of academic research

Peer-Reviewed Journals:
Academic research is based on the conclusions of peer-reviewed researchers. The articles that appear in these periodicals have been subjected to blind review which means other experts have read the work and verified the methods and analysis. Much of this is inaccessible to emerging researchers as it is very complicated.

Books from Credible Sources:
Well-referenced and edited non-fiction books can be very useful for clarifying research problems. The credibility of these books arises from the fact they are reviewed. In addition to editorial review throughout the process, outside experts are involved in the preview of book proposals and drafts as the final version emerges. A subset of these books are anthologies in which a board of reviewers manages the compilation of chapters on a topic of interest.