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Start Here: How do I pick the right materials for my research?

Why? Why not? Choosing a source of information

This chart is a very simplified overview with generalizations about types of resources and what they might do best. Of course there are many exceptions; you might find a newly published book on a very specific topic, or you find a great article with an extensive bibliography. Use your judgment, but try to explore a variety of formats to find the information you need.



Why Not?


Books, E-Books

For an overview of a topic, for a detailed discussion of a topic, books are usually proofread, edited, and fact-checked more extensively than other types of sources

Not for very recent information, may not cover very specific topics

Magazine and newspaper articles

For more current or detailed information, or if you cannot find any books on your topic

Not for broad overview of a topic, articles from general (as opposed to scholarly) periodicals won't have bibliographies referring you to other related sources. or acknowledging the sources the author used.


Very current, many different perspectives & opinions, very specific topic coverage, easy and cheap to find information

Internet information may -- or may not -- be reliable, authoritative.  Hard to tell who or why someone writes about a topic. Information online may be changed frequently (e.g. Wikipedia) or be gone completely when you go back to it a second time

Books and magazines outside the FIT Library: Interlibrary Loan (ILL) or visiting another library

Item not available at FIT library

Not for things you need right away
Item might actually be available in another format (e.g. online through FIT Library Databases instead of printed book or magazine format),

This chart is just an outline of issues to consider when using a specific source or format of information; there's no single right or wrong answer to the question "what's a good source?

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