Information can come from virtually anywhere — media, blogs, personal experiences, books, journal and magazine articles, expert opinions, encyclopedias, and web pages — and the type of information you need will change depending on the question you are trying to answer. Look at the following sources of information. Notice the similarities between them.
|A magazine is a collection of articles and images about diverse topics of popular interest and current events. Usually these articles are written by journalists or scholars and are geared toward the average adult. Magazines may cover very "serious" material, but to find consistent scholarly information, you should use journals.|
|A journal is a collection of articles usually written by scholars in an academic or professional field. An editorial board reviews articles to decide whether they should be accepted. Articles in journals can cover very specific topics or narrow fields of research.|
|A database contains citations of articles in magazines, journals, and newspapers. They may also contain citations to podcasts, blogs, videos, and other media types. Some databases contain abstracts or brief summaries of the articles, while other databases contain complete, full-text articles.|
|A newspaper is a collection of articles about current events usually published daily. Since there is at least one in every city, it is a great source for local information.|
|A library catalog is an organized and searchable collection of records of every item in a library and can be found on the library home page. The catalog will point you to the location of a particular source, or group of sources, that the library owns on your topic.||Virginia Tech's library catalog is called Addison.|
Books cover virtually any topic, fact or fiction. For research purposes, you will probably be looking for books that synthesize all the information on one topic to support a particular argument or thesis.
Libraries organize and store their book collections on shelves called "stacks."
Encyclopedias are collections of short, factual entries often written by different contributors who are knowledgeable about the topic.
There are two types of encyclopedias: general and subject. General encyclopedias provide concise overviews on a wide variety of topics. Subject encyclopedias contain in-depth entries focusing on one field of study.
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. The Web contains information beyond plain text, including sounds, images, and video.
The important thing to do when using information on the Internet is to know how to evaluate it!