Using a variety of resources in your research creates a fuller picture of your topic. Each type of resource has its uses. Select resources that will best help you in your research.
Use books when you need summarized knowledge or an overview. Books are helpful for historical topics and topics that span a length of time. Books provide bibliographies and you can use those citations to find more research on your topic.
Books are not as useful when you have a very recent or narrow topic. Books take years to research and publish so the most recent information will not be in books.
Use articles (from journals, magazines, newspapers, etc.) when you need very recent information. If you have a narrow or single topic to cover, articles are your best bet in finding relevant information.
Articles are not as useful for historical topics or topics spanning a long length of time. Sometimes an article can be too specific for your needs.
For academic research, it is best to use peer-reviewed or scholarly journals. See why here.
Find articles through databases or specific e-journals.
Websites are a great source of information for many topics, especially government information, government statistics, and information on institutions or companies.
When using websites you must evaluate all information. You need to find out if the information being presented is accurate. Please see "Evaluating Resources" for tips on getting the most credible information from the web.
Reference sources, like dictionaries, encyclopedias and almanacs, are designed to contain fast facts and summaries. Reference resources are a great place to get started with understanding your topic. Many reference sources also contain bibliographies to help you find more resources about your topic.
Reference sources are tertiary sources, so they should be used as starting places for research, not as 100 percent of your research. Your research should be made of primary and secondary sources.
Multimedia items, like video recordings, preserve information in a visual format. Use videos to watch interviews, documentaries, and other educational videos on your topic.
You should evaluate all information found in videos, especially videos found on the open web. ICC also has access to databases of streaming videos that have high-quality and credible information.
Many people rely on Google, Bing, Yahoo, or another search engine to find the information they need. However, MUCH of the information on the Internet is "invisible" or "deep," meaning that it cannot be found through search engines. All of the thousands of ebooks, ejournals and online articles that the ICC library provides cannot be found through a search engine. To find ICC's collection of invisible web information search through the library databases here or the library catalog here.
This video explains how the deep web works.
Selecting sources also includes scope. You will need to select resources that fit the scope of your research.
Primary sources hold information closest to the event, time or person. This information has not been edited or interpreted.
Secondary sources are one step removed from primary sources. The author examines and interprets primary resources to create the secondary resource. Secondary sources are more abundant and often easier to use than primary resources.
Tertiary sources are two steps removed from primary sources. Tertiary sources use primary and secondary sources.
The video below further explains the differences.