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FYE 112 | Spring 2024

Determine your information need, select keywords, choose a database, evaluate information.

Determine Your Information Need

An effective way to focus your search for information is to first determine your information need.

Do you need...

  • Background information?
  • A general overview?
  • Comprehensive information?
  • A quick reference to a specific fact?
  • Statistics?
  • In-depth information on a narrow topic?

Consider also...

  • Who is my audience?
  • What are my assignment guidelines?
  • How current is my topic?  Has enough time passed that there will be enough published information available?

Determining what you need (books, journal articles, newspaper articles, encyclopedias) will help focus where you should be searching.

Information Source Types

Source Type


Time Frame

Use For



Where to Find


Social Media


Seconds, Minutes


Immediacy.  Breaks the story.

Unedited.  Information may be incomplete, false, or biased



Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok




Days, Months, Years

Background information, news, opinion, primary sources, pop culture. An integration of text, graphics, still and moving images, animation, sounds, and any other medium where  information can be stored, transmitted and processed digitally.

Anyone, Professionals






Excellent for current information, useful for local information. Useful for historical research. 9th-12 grade levels, current events.  Does not use technical language. Professional Journalists Access World News




Days, Weeks

An overview of your topic, as well as information on popular culture and current events. Colorful, entertaining.   Contain ads. may be found on news stands. Usually cover current topics. Professional Journalists

Readers' Guide Full Text Mega


Conference Proceedings


Weeks, Months

Research in progress. Scholarly articles written by the same authors may be published at a later date. 


Academic or field-specific terminology used.  Presents new research.


Specialists in the Field, Scholars




Scholarly Journal Articles


Months, Year/s


Written in technical discipline specific. Is rarely shorter than 10 pages.  Includes data, tables, charts, a bibliography, and when presenting research, an introduction, methods section, results, discussion, conclusions.

Specialists in the Field, Scholars Academic Search Ultimate









Overview of topic, in-depth coverage of topic.  Check book's index and table of contents to locate information relevant to your topic. Lengthy; may be an in-depth fully developed argument, or may be an edited collection of authored articles.  May be published by a general publisher (HarperCollins) or by an academic press (in which case they would be called a monograph). Specialists, Journalists, Scholars

LVC Catalog


Encyclopedias or Reference Sources



Topic ideas, overview of topic, background information, quick facts.  Check their bibliographies to identify additional core sources of information. Articles are often compilations from many contributors. Authoritative and concise information sources.  They provide comprehensive background information on a topic.


Specialists, Scholars


Credo Reference


Government Documents



Statistics, overview of topic, quick facts, in-depth analysis, research reports. Government documents may be found in many forms:  they are books, pamphlets, or other materials published by a federal, state, or local government agency.  Government Agency Staff, Researchers






Seconds, Minutes, Months, Years

Topic ideas, overview of topic, opinions, information from organizations and commercial businesses. Wide variety of source types. Offers many perspectives. Evaluate sources carefully as many are not  fact-checked.




Google or Google Scholar