Successful Research

Research

Research


Find the information you need

Advantages of different information sources
Choosing an appropriate source of information to meet your needs can save you time and help you get hold of relevant information.

Information is available in a range of formats. Below are some of the ones you are most likely to use. Click on each to see their advantages and disadvantages.



Once you've worked out which types of information may be useful, you need to know how to track them down...



Books

Advantages

  • Thorough overview of a topic
  • Quality checked by publisher
  • Usually well-researched
  • Include references to other sources you can use
  • Dip in and out as needed – portable!

Disadvantages

  • Take a long time to be published – out of date?
  • Check for author bias

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Journals

What is a journal?

  • A collection of articles relating to a particular topic
  • Published regularly (eg once a month, quarterly, annually)

Advantages

  • Include the latest research
  • Up to date
  • Cover very specific topics
  • Quality checked during peer review process
  • List references used - good source for further research

Disadvantages

  • Are not as broad as books

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Magazines

Advantages

  • Indicate areas of professional interest
  • Up to date coverage of news and opinion
  • Opportunity for communities to engage
  • Feature new services, resources or areas of interest

Disadvantages

  • Not as extensively quality reviewed as journals

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Websites

Advantages

  • Quick access to information
  • Can be kept up to date easily

Disadvantages

  • Not quality checked – anyone can create a website
  • Not always reliable or of an academic standard
  • Large number of hits - can be difficult to identify the best results

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Reports

Advantages

  • Look at a topic in detail
  • Often include statistics or research findings

Disadvantages

  • Can be biased
  • Don't always give an overview of a subject

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Encyclopedias

Advantages

  • Facts about a topic
  • Quality checked
  • Brief overview of a topic

Disadvantages

  • Print copies may go out of date
  • May not include a lot of detail

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Atlases and maps

Advantages

  • Good for geographical information
  • Many now online
  • Good source for visual information

Disadvantages

  • Lack detailed information on a topic

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Films

Advantages

  • Visual representation of a topic
  • Can be based on facts or real events

Disadvantages

  • Often created for entertainment purposes
  • May not accurately represent a topic or event
  • Can be biased

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Ebooks

Advantages

  • Thorough overview of a topic
  • Quality checked by publisher
  • Usually well-researched
  • Include references to other sources you can use
  • Read online - often off campus, any time
  • Search across book’s content
  • May be able to add your own notes alongside content

Disadvantages

  • Take a long time to be published – out of date?
  • Check for author bias
  • Not always easy to read from a screen

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Ejournals

Advantages

  • Include the latest research
  • Up to date
  • Cover very specific topics
  • Quality checked during peer review process
  • Read online - any time
  • Search for specific articles online
  • Receive email alerts of new issues

Disadvantages

  • Don't cover as much breadth as books
  • May require username and password off campus

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Newspapers

Advantages

  • Up to date coverage of events, news and opinion
  • Include images
  • Can include reliable information as well as some facts and figures

Disadvantages

  • Can be biased and unreliable
  • May be influenced by political loyalties
  • Some items may be written to entertain rather than to portray facts

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Conference papers

Advantages

  • Can be up to date
  • Indicate areas of current research interest
  • Quality checked

Disadvantages

  • Don't always give an overview of a subject

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Statistics

Advantages

  • Can provide evidence to support an argument

Disadvantages

  • Statistics can be manipulated!

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Dictionaries and thesauruses

Advantages

  • Aid understanding of terms and concepts
  • Improve written course work

Disadvantages

  • Do not give detailed information on topics

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Television programmes

Advantages

  • Present information in different formats
  • Can include facts and opinions
  • Can be an up-to-date source of information

Disadvantages

  • Can be biased
  • May not give further references to follow up
  • May not always give a fair representation of a subject
  • Often created for entertainment purposes

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Now you can go on to the next section to find out ways in which you can evaluate the information that you find.