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Information Formats And Their Characteristics Questions about this activity? Contact Kimberley Stephenson at

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Presentation on theme: "Information Formats And Their Characteristics Questions about this activity? Contact Kimberley Stephenson at"— Presentation transcript:

1 Information Formats And Their Characteristics Questions about this activity? Contact Kimberley Stephenson at

2 This brief presentation will help you understand the differences between information formats, so that you can choose the appropriate online research tools. Introduction

3 There are essentially three categories of scholarly information: books, journal articles, and so-called “grey literature”—anything that appears outside “traditional” publishing channels, including dissertations/theses, reports, presentations, manuals, Web sites, etc. In the next few slides, we’ll examine these formats in more detail. Introduction

4 Books are a scholarly format familiar to most people. But did you know that there are different types of scholarly books? A book on a library shelf may be one of three types: a reference book, a monograph, or an edited volume. Reference books (encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, directories) contain background information about a variety of topics, and are not designed to be read all the way through. Books

5 Reference books are a good place to start your research, as they offer brief overviews of your topic, and will usually direct you to additional sources. Monographs are usually written by one author on a single topic. Edited volumes contain chapters addressing a general theme. Each chapter is written by a different author, then compiled into one volume by an editor. Books

6 Although these three types of books are quite different in scope and purpose, there are some common features. Books are often quite lengthy, which generally means that they cover issues thoroughly and provide lots of background information. This is especially true of scholarly monographs. Second, books often take a long time to move from the writing stage to the library shelf. This long process often means that the information in books is historical in nature. Books

7 Unlike books, which are generally published once and occasionally re-published in new editions, periodicals are information formats that are published with new content on a regular basis. The contents within these periodicals are called articles. Articles

8 Although the key distinction of periodicals is that they are published on a regular basis, they do appear with varying frequency. For example, articles could be published daily in a newspaper or Web site, weekly/monthly in a magazine, or quarterly in a scholarly journal. Because articles are generally shorter than books, and published more frequently than books, they are generally more likely to contain current information than books. Articles

9 Periodicals may be “popular” or “scholarly.” Facts about popular sources (i.e., magazines): –Articles are intended for a broad, general audience. –Articles are usually written by people who work for the publisher and who may or may not have training in the field they discuss. –Articles are often illustrated and appear alongside advertisements. They are intended to help sell the magazine, as well as to inform the public. –The editor and publisher are the only people who judge the articles before they are printed. Articles may reflect the opinions of the editor or publisher. Articles

10 Facts about scholarly sources (i.e., journals): –Articles focus on a specific subject and address a specialized audience. –Articles are written by one or more authors with knowledge of and training in the field or discipline. –Articles are presented in a specific way, often headed by abstracts and with cited references, and are usually not illustrated, although there may be charts, graphs, or tables. –Scholarly journals do not usually contain advertising, because their publication costs are covered by membership and subscription fees. Articles

11 Visual/contextual clues can help you determine whether an article is popular or scholarly: –Length: Scholarly articles are usually lengthy and detailed; popular articles are often short. –Bibliography: Scholarly articles always cite sources; popular articles usually do not. –Author information: Scholarly articles list the author’s name and background; popular articles may not. –Physical appearance: Popular articles usually contain ads and photographs; scholarly articles usually don’t. If in doubt, ask a librarian whether a particular article is considered scholarly. Articles

12 In general, the term “grey literature” describes scholarly content that is not published through traditional book or periodical channels. Grey literature is often produced by government agencies and universities, and can include such diverse formats as dissertations/theses, reports, presentations, manuals, pamphlets, and Web sites. Grey literature is often difficult to locate—but librarians can help you track down these obscure sources. Grey Literature

13 In this tutorial, we’ve covered: –Books; –Articles; and –Grey literature, including Web information. Remember that you can contact a librarian any time for help with any of these steps. Just visit our Research Help page for more information.Research Help page Summary

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