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Information Literacy Tutorial

Our Library's tutorial covers: research skills, critical thinking and information literacy.

Journal Articles


  • Currency: Current within a few months to a few years of publication. Look at the list of references used. What is the most recent date you can find? That should tell you when they stopped researching and started writing. But bear in mind that experimental/observational data they gathered may be a year or two older than that.
  • Type of Information: Most recent research within the subject of the journal. Scholarly journal articles are important in all academic subject areas since not all researchers publish books.
  • Where to Find: Print journals are delivered to subscribers and libraries. Some journals are Open Access and make all their content available online for free. Libraries pay to subscribe to article databases. Those subscriptions make millions of articles available to users at those institutions.

Magazine Articles


  • Currency: News magazine articles should be current within a few days to a few months of publication. But many magazine articles are based on scholarly articles, so their information is not as new.
  • Type of Information: Current events and editorials (news magazines). Non-scholarly articles about topics of interest.
  • Where to Find: Print magazines are delivered to homes and libraries. Some magazines have an online presence, but access to older articles may require a subscription. Some library databases have full-text articles from magazines.

Newspaper Articles


  • Currency: Current within a few minutes to a day of publication. Corrections made after the fact can change content later.
  • Type of Information: Current events and editorials.
  • Where to Find: Print newspapers are delivered to homes and libraries. Many newspapers have an online presence but access to older articles may require a subscription. Libraries can subscribe to newspaper databases.

Books


  • Currency: Most books take years to publish so the appropriate research and analysis can take place.
  • Type of Information: Usually Scholarly- depends upon the topic and author. This is explained further in the next section: Scholarly Information.
  • Where to Find: Books are found in bookstores and libraries. eBook versions may be available for consumers via Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc. Some eBooks may also be available through academic libraries in formats that are read in web browsers or downloaded onto a device.

Reference Resources


  • Currency: Print reference resources often have annual updates, so the information in them should be only about a year old. Online reference resources may be updated continuously. The important thing is that reference resources usually tell you how old their information is. 
  • Type of Information: Summary and synthesis of what is known about a topic. Materials to be referred to; for example, facts and figures, dates, names, measurements, statistics, quotations, instructions, equations, formulae, definitions, explanations, charts, graphs, diagrams, maps. 
  • Where to Find: Traditionally, reference resources are available as books or series of books. They can be purchased by consumers but are often far too expensive. They can be found in the reference sections of public and academic libraries. More and more reference resources are available in online format, and as they go online, they become less and less linear, taking advantage of the ability to link and include multimedia. Online reference resources are available through specialized library databases.

Textbooks


  • Currency: Varies widely. Some textbook editors publish a new edition every year, and their information should be current within a year or two of the edition's publication date. Other textbooks in less time-sensitive disciplines may contain information that is more historical in nature.
  • Type of Information: Information on a topic arranged in such a way that a beginner can acquire knowledge about that topic systematically. Textbooks are meant to be used as part of taking a course, but are usually written so that they are complete and understandable on their own. 
  • Where to Find: In libraries some textbooks may be in the stacks or held on reserve. Most textbook publishers do not make textbooks available as e-books for libraries. Some textbooks may also be rented for the duration of the course through a campus bookstore or other online source.
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