Types of Resources

In most libraries, there are multiple types of resources you can use for your research project.  Some are in print, some are electronic, and many come in both formats.  For example, magazine or journal articles are traditionally thought of as print sources, but now many printed resources are also available electronically, such as a magazines or journals that are delivered as e-journals or in database subscriptions.

Regardless of the medium (print or electronic) and how you access it (free Internet, or print or online subscription), what is important is to select the resource that will provide the most appropriate content for your research project.  Here is a chart to help you determine which resources to use:




Books and e-books

(including reference and circulating)

  • Books go through an editorial process for reliability
  • Provides historical context
  • Can provide in-depth information
  • Reference books can provide facts very quickly.
  • Excellent for background information
  • Information in hard copy books takes longer to be updated
  • You have to physically visit a library or learning resource center to borrow the hard copy book

Periodical Articles

(including magazines, journals, newspapers)

  • Information may be updated easily
  • Often up-to-the-minute information
  • May be keyword searchable
  • Shorter works such as articles
  • Accessing electronic formats requires using a search strategy rather than natural language – not so true anymore – in EBSCO you can use some natural language –
  • Not all online articles available to read

Internet Website

  •   Most websites are free and easy to access
  • An easy way to access government information
  • You often have to wade through lots of information to find what you need
  • You have to evaluate the website for currency, reliability, accuracy, authority, bias and purpose before using it in your academic work.


(including maps and photos)

  • Can provide visual information
  • Creates a context
  • Can be difficult to change sizes of the image


(including sound & video)

  • Can provide visual information
  • Can provide aural information
  • Creates a context
  • Generally requires hardware or software to access the information


(including conversation, email, chat, text messaging, etc.)

  • Can serve as a primary source of information