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EN 121: English Composition

Comparison of information sources




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 topics, or 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

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

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?"

The difference between scholarly journals, magazines, and trade publications







 Also called:






magazines: glitzy cover; glossy paper; lots of color photos & graphics

newspapers: newsprint; photos & graphics

many advertisements

industrial/ professional motif on cover

usually glossy paper but may be newsprint; may have color photos & graphics

ads aimed at those in industry or profession

plain cover

often plain paper; if illustrated, usually graphs & charts with little color

 few, if any ads



general public

(often sold in stores & on newsstands)

members of specific industry or profession

scholars, researchers, students, professors


usually short unsigned articles without bibliographies


written by magazine or newspaper staff or by freelance writers

short to medium length articles; rarely include bibliographies; may be signed; written by staff or contributing authors  involved in the industry or profession

industry information, news, products,  techniques, statistics; often job ads

long articles with abstracts at beginning & extensive footnotes & bibliographies; use language of the discipline; authors always indicated & are scholars/researchers in field

research projects including methodology and theory



general editors of  magazine or newspaper review  articles



general editors of  journal review  articles; editors often have experience &/or education within  industry or profession


often published by trade association

articles reviewed by board of scholars in subject field before accepted for publication (hence, peer-reviewed); publication editors are usually scholars in field as well.

often published by  professional organization or university


primarily to produce profit for publisher; also may be to sell ad products, entertain, promote point of view, provide information

provide news and information to people in specific industry or profession

report or inform on original research or experimentation


each issue starts with page one

each issue starts with page one

continuous paging throughout issues of volume


Business Week, Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, Vogue, New York Times

WWD (Women’s Wear Daily), Global Cosmetic Industry, Advertising Age

Fashion Theory, Journal of Marketing Research, Textile History

NOTES regarding the chart above: 
Within each category of periodical, there may be some variation.  For example, the popular or consumer magazines category includes both magazines with very short articles directed at the general public, such as People Magazine, and magazines with more substantial articles that are geared to a more specific and educated audience, such as The Economist, ArtNews, or Scientific American.  Also be aware that each periodical in a category may not have all of the characteristics listed for that category.

FROM: How to Do Research: In the Library and Beyond : A Guide for Students by Marian Weston

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