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Do I need articles or books more for my research papers?

Last Updated: May 08, 2015  |  155 Views

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Usually, you'll need to find both books and scholarly articles for your research papers. You may also need to find newspaper and magazine articles. This will depend on your topic and the requirements of your professor. When chosing appropriate sources for your research paper, keep in mind the following:

Different kinds of sources contain different kinds of information and have advantages and disadvantages. 

Books provide more comprehensive, broad coverage of a given topic, including background or historical information.  Many, but not all, books are written by scholars and published by University presses and scholarly associations. These would be considered scholarly, academic, and authoritative sources. However, because it can take years  to write and publish books, they generally don't contain the most current information available. 

Scholarly journal articles are written by scholars in a given field and are very authoritative and reliable. These articles usually are comprised of original research that is focused on a very narrow aspect of a topic. It can take a long time for articles to be published in scholarly journals because they go through a rigorous review process before they are published. However, they are published more quickly than books, offering more current information. 

Magazine and newspaper articles are written by staff and freelance writers who are not experts in the subject matter they are writing about. They are less authoritative and not considered scholarly sources. However, you can find very current information in these sources because they are published frequently (especially newspapers) and do not go through a lengthy review and publishing process. These sources will be particularly helpful when you are researching current events and general interest topics that may not be covered in more scholarly publications. 

If you have any questions about finding appropriate sources for your research paper, please Ask a Librarian for help. 

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