Pfeiffer Library | Library Catalog

Information Literacy Tutorial

Finding Information Resources
Contents of this page:

Background Information

Encyclopedia articles give a broad overview and background information. Each article, written by a subject specialist in the field, provides an introduction to the subject and includes a selective bibliography of books and articles on the subject. A general encyclopedia is often the best place to start research because it contains information on almost every subject. Specialized encyclopedias are focused on specific subject fields.

Selected list of general encyclopedias

Examples of of specialized encyclopedias

To find a specialized encyclopedia in the Online Catalog

Books and Non-Print Media

Books are useful because they often give an in depth treatment of a topic and provide a useful bibliography of references to additional sources.

Nonprint media, such as DVDs, CDs, and streaming video, can be used as sources of information or to enhance a speech or presentation.

Pfeiffer Library's online catalog of books and nonprint media is available from the main page of the library website. The WorldCat database, a national database of books in libraries, is available under "Other Catalogs" in the search menu in our catalog, or from our Research Databases page. We can easily send books between our two campuses if the book you need is on the other campus - just place a hold in the catalog. We can borrow books that we do not own from other libraries via Interlibrary Loan - just click the interlibrary loan link from the book's record in WorldCat, or place your request via email or in person at the library. We will mail books to distance education students, and we also have arrangements for distance education students to use local university libraries.

Journal/Magazine/Newspaper Articles

Basic information

Periodicals are materials that are published at regular intervals (monthly, quarterly, daily, etc.)
Periodical articles contain current information, which is especially important in fields such as science, business, psychology, and technology. Also, subjects too new or too specialized to be covered by books are often covered by magazines, journals, and newspapers.

Types of periodical articles

Finding periodical articles on my topic

  • Locating periodical articles

    Making copies/scans

    Print journals in the library do not circulate, but you may make a photocopy for 10 cents a page, or scan the article to a thumb drive for free. We will scan and send articles to distance education students.

    Biographical Information

    There may be times when you will need to find biographical information about a person. The library has dozens of biographical sources in the reference area. A researcher often doesn't know which one will contain information on the person of interest. Our librarians will be happy to help you find the appropriate biographical encyclopedia.

    In addition you may use the following techniques to find biographical information:
    1. Look in a general encyclopedia for a brief summary of the person's life.
    2. Do a subject search in the Pfeiffer Library catalog to find whole books about him or her.
    3. Look in journal databases to find articles about the individual.

    Primary Sources

    A primary source is:

    Secondary sources are works that interpret the primary data, such as a book about eating disorders, a journal article about the role of tobacco in colonial economy, or a critical review of a play.

    Selected List of Primary Sources:

     Critical Reviews

    A review is a critical evaluation. By reading reviews, you can determine the quality of a book or movie.

    Book Reviews
    Books are reviewed in newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals. Ordinarily a book will be reviewed within a year after it is published, although it may be reviewed later. To find a book review, you need to know the author, title, and date of publication. Following are several sources for finding book reviews: Movie Reviews

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