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Information Literacy Tutorial: Types of Resources

Resource Chart

Type of Source Characteristics Examples

Books cover virtually any topic, fact or fiction. For research purposes, you will probably be looking for books that synthesize all the information on one topic to support a particular argument or thesis. Libraries organize and store their book collections on shelves called "stacks." Most of the time, you will be using the library's online catalog to locate books, both in print and electronic format, in our collection.

Use a Book


·         when looking for comprehensive information on a topic


·         to put your topic in context with other important issues


·         to find historical information


·         to find summaries of research to support an argument

Wheat Belly : Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health

The Hunger Games

The Secrets of College Success
Reference Sources  Reference sources can be a beneficial resource for research. They provide a concise overview of a topic, background information, facts and statistics, and will often lead you to other sources of information.

Usually reference sources are consulted for quick answers or facts, not for in-depth research. They must be used in the library and do not circulate.

When you begin your research, you might consult a reference source such as a subject encyclopedia to obtain an overview of your topic and some background information. Later on, as your research progresses, you might come back to reference sources to get some specific facts and statistics or to look up definitions for unfamiliar terminology you have come across in some of your readings.

Reference sources are often books located in a special section of the library. This, however, is not always the case. They can also be databases you access via the Library Web Site.

The Best 376 Colleges


Woodstock : an Encyclopedia of the Music and Art Fair


Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses


The World Almanac and Book of Facts

A magazine is a collection of articles and images about diverse topics of popular interest and current events. Usually these articles are written by journalists and are geared toward the average adult. Magazines are mainly written to inform and entertain. They are not intended for scholarly research.

Magazines, like journals and newspapers, are called "periodicals" because they are published at regular intervals throughout the year.  To see a list of the magazines available at MCC, consult the Journal Lists.

Use a Magazine


·         to find information or opinions about popular culture


·         to find up-to-date information about current events


·         to find general articles for people who are not necessarily
          specialists about the topic







Journals  A journal is a collection of articles usually written by scholars in an academic or professional field. An editorial board of subject specialists reviews articles to decide whether they should be accepted. This is what it means when a journal is "peer-reviewed'. Scholarly journal articles usually present original research findings. In fact, they are a primary method scholars use to communicate with one another. Since journals are published on a regular or periodic basis they are grouped in the category called "periodicals."

Journals can be located online through one of the MCC Library's Databases. Be careful, though, because many of the databases cover both popular magazines and scholarly journals. You need to be able to distinguish between the two. Some databases will allow you to limit your search results to peer-reviewed or scholarly journals. This chart will also help explain the differences between types of periodicals.


(Journal of the American Medical Association)




Journal of Abnormal Psychology


College Student Journal
Newspapers  A newspaper is a collection of articles about current events usually published daily. Since there are papers in many cities, they are a great source for local information. Newspapers, like journals and magazines, are called "periodicals" because they are published on a regular or periodic basis.

Many newspapers publish web sites with todays news. Their web sites, however, will often only give you limited access to articles for free and ask you to pay for articles beyond that. Libraries often subscribe to databases that allow you to search the full-text of many newspapers for free. For information on accessing newspaper articles at MCC, consult the Finding Articles research guide. For a list of newspapers available at the MCC Library, consult the Journal Lists.

Click here to go directly to the newspapers databases available from the MCC Library Web Site.

Chicago Tribune


New York Times


Daily Herald


Northwest Herald
Web Sources

There is lots and lots of information available through the web. Much of this information is freely available to anyone, but some web sites are accessible only to subscribers. The web contains information beyond plain text, including sounds, images and video. Since anyone can post anything to the web, one must carefully evaluate the quality of web sites.

Use the Web:


·         to find current news and information


·         to link to information provided by the library over the Internet
          (including subscription databases)


·         to find information about companies and organizations


·         to find information from all levels of government


·         to find statistics

·         to find any information that is too new to be published yet

National Institute of Health






McHenry County College