Types of Sources



To locate books for your research, search the library catalog, Annie, using the Keyword search. The catalog contains records for all books, journals, videos, CDs, etc. in all of W&L's Libraries on campus. In general, it is best to start with basic resources when possible, such as subject encyclopedias and handbooks and then move on to books on your topic.

Start with basic resources when possible, such as subject encyclopedias and handbooks, because they will tell you who some of the most important scholars in the field are, provide you with background information on your topic, and give you a better idea of what terms to use when looking for more information.
  • for encyclopedias, search by keyword: word or phrase and s:encyclopedias
      (example: economic* and development* and s:encyclopedias)
  • for handbooks, search by keyword: word or phrase and s:handbooks
      (example: economic* and development* and s:handbooks)
  • Use the Keyword search to find books. Once you find a book on your topic, pay attention to the subject headings listed bottom of the Annie record to find similar books. (Example)


Periodicals: Journals, Magazines and Newspapers

Periodicals come in many different shapes and sizes, and have many different purposes. Generally in academic research, you will want to use primarly scholarly journals and absolutely no popular magazines. For some disciplines (especially in business and economics), trade journals are an important source of information.

Popular Magazines

  • give broad overviews of issues, written by generalists
  • contain brief articles, with no references
  • provide up-to-date information
  • contain a lot of graphics and photos
  • contain advertisements aimed at a general audience
  • are published frequently (usually weekly or monthly)

Trade Journals

  • are usually focused on a single industry or profession
  • shorter articles written by experts in the field on topics of practical concern
  • articles are reviewed by an editorial staff made up of professionals in the field or industry
  • report on industry issues, technical developments and applications
  • use colorful graphics and photos
  • have advertisements that are aimed at people in the industry or profession
  • often published monthly

Scholarly Journals

  • long articles reporting research findings and discussing theoretical issues
  • are peer-reviewed
  • often edited by a professor
  • give authorship and affiliation
  • provide careful documentation in references and footnotes
  • generally do not have advertisements
  • often published quarterly

Here are some examples of these three different types of journals:

Article Name Periodical Analysis
"The structure and intensity of energy use" The Energy Journal
April 1993 v14 n2 p27(19)
This is a good example of a scholarly journal. Although the article is in text only, you will see many of the features of a scholarly article; its length and the references at the end are most noticeable, but information about the authors is also provided. (pdf)
"Putting the sun to work" Building Design & Construction,
July 1994 v35 n7 p74(4)
This is a trade journal in the building industry. The author of the article is identified as a contributing editor, and there are several graphics included. The length is shorter than the scholarly article, and no references are provided. (pdf)
"Buying Power By The Hour" Newsweek
April 30, 2001 p39
This is a popular magazine. Like the article above, only the text is available. The article is much shorter than the scholarly article above, the date in the citation suggests that it is published frequently, and there are no references at the end of the article. No information about the author is provided.

See also, Searching for articles and locating the periodicals.


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