You can find information in many different places and in many different forms. Where you look will depend on the type of information you are looking for.
Textbooks are usually the most common item in course reading lists. Textbooks provide a good overview of a subject, describing the theories, principles and facts underlying it. They usually also include bibliographies at the end of each chapter, with recommended further reading.
Journals include collections of articles on a particular subject. They focus on the latest research and opinion, and are published at regular intervals throughout the year.
How to use journals video
There are different types of journals:
- Academic journals: These are written by academics and are research orientated. Articles provide up-to-date and cutting-edge thinking about current issues in a subject area. Many articles are based on original research. Articles published in these journals will be 'peer-reviewed' as a quality control. Articles often include a list of references used in the research for the article, which can be used to find further reading material. An example is 'Applied economics'.
- Trade journals: These are more journalistic in style and are aimed at professionals working in the field. They contain useful information on current trends, and opinions on current developments in a profession. Articles are usually written by journalists with subject expertise, or by subject experts with some journalism experience, but they are not normally 'peer reviewed'. These journals are usually published monthly or weekly. An example is 'Architects journal'.
- Magazines: Popular magazines such as 'The Economist' or 'New Scientist' can be useful for features on topics of current interest, but they are not peer reviewed.
Newspapers contain articles on current events and opinions. All newspapers have an editorial slant, but are useful to understand public opinion on an issue. To get a balanced view of a story, try and read articles and opinion columns from different newspapers with different political perspectives. Newspapers are published daily or weekly.
Although you can find a lot of useful information on the internet, you need to remember that there is also a large amount of poor quality, misleading or out of date information online.
Exercise great care when using information found on the web - evaluate websites carefully to determine whether the information is reliable and appropriate.
For more information on useful internet sources and for help improving your critical and evaluative skills, check out the Intute online tutorials.
Archives are materials created by individuals or organisations during the course of their life or work that have been selected for permanent preservation. The University Archive holds materials relating to the history of the institution, and can also provide advice on identifying archives that are relevant to your studies.
Film and television programmes
Documentary films and television programmes can vary from in-depth investigations and interviews to quick overviews of a topic.
The library has a large collection of films and television programmes on video and DVD, and you can also find material online.
Companies and businesses carry out a great deal of market research on their products and services. These reports analyse the habits, needs and preferences of the public.
Governments and their departments publish a great deal of information, from press releases to in-depth reports. This information may reflect the bias of the government in power. Much of the information is available on the internet.
British Standards Institution
British Standards are technical agreements published by the British Standards Institution. They describe how products should be manufactured so that they are appropriate for their intended purpose.
Good quality, reliable and up-to-date statistics are an excellent means to back up your research. The Government releases numerous statistics of all aspects of life in the UK. Banks and businesses are another source of useful statistical information.