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Research Process

Get help with any part of the research process.

Research typically involves collecting a variety of sources including:

entries from encyclopedias and dictionaries  |  books and videos  |  articles from newspapers, magazines and journals  |  websites   statistical data

Types of Information Sources

Information is available in a variety of formats, each with a distinct purpose and meeting a specific need. Think about what kind of information you need before you begin searching, and focus your research on locating the type of source that meets your needs. 

Type of Source
Example
Characteristics and Purpose
Journals
cover of Journal of Abnormal Psychology
  • Scholarly, original research, sources cited
  • Approved by editorial board or other experts (peer-reviewed) before publication
  • Latest discoveries and most current research, often very specific topics
  • Published monthly, quarterly
  • Subscriptions are expensive, libraries pay for access, mostly through databases
  • Some available freely online, through open access
  • Useful for credible, up-to-date, detailed information
Magazines

Cover of Psychology Today

  • Topics of popular interest, for general readers
  • Written by journalists, sometimes scholars
  • Approved by magazine editors
  • Up-to-date information about current events and topics
  • Published weekly, monthly
  • Libraries pay for access, some in print and many in databases
  • Some content available freely online
  • Useful for up-to-date, general information for non-specialists
Newspapers
Newspapers
  • Articles covering current events, as well as editorials, opinions of experts and general population
  • Written by journalists
  • Approved by newspaper editor
  • Published daily, weekly
  • Libraries pay for access, some in print, many in databases
  • Some content available freely online
  • Useful for current events coverage on local, national, international levels
Books
Cover of Thinking Fast and Slow book
  • Thorough, in-depth coverage of a topic
  • Written by variety of people, including researchers, journalists, professionals in field
  • Most books undergo professional editing, self-published may not
  • Available in print and electronic, libraries carefully select collections
  • Useful for broad coverage a topic, to put topic in context or understand bigger picture than articles
Websites
  • Information covering a variety of topics to varying degrees of specificity
  • Written by anyone, from novices to experts - anyone can post anything!
  • Available to anyone with internet access
  • Requires very careful evaluation
  • Useful for government information, statistics, current information, and expert and popular opinions - but must be evaluated!