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CAL 105: CAL Colloquium

Information for CAL 105 students to aid in their research projects.

Identifying Source Types

Information can be found in all sorts of packaging. Each package - book, journal article, blog post, etc. - is defined by its characteristics, and is suitable for some information needs but not others. Everything can be useful! It just depends on the context in which you'll be using it, and, of course, what your assignment requires.


  • Good for: broad coverage of a topic
  • Scholarly books (monographs) have bibliographies; follow up to check the info and find additional sources
  • How old is it? Check the publication date to see if the information is still current or is more of historical value
  • Where to find them: Library Catalog

Scholarly Journals

  • Good for: close study of a field and the research on topics within that field. Can be considered a trade journal if you work in that field and you need to keep up with trends
  • Peer-reviewed: Journal articles are reviewed & evaluated by other experts prior to acceptance and publication
  • Articles: in-depth original research, or an overview and analysis of research done on a particular topic
    • Very useful bibliographies/reference lists!
  • Discipline-specific, technical jargon geared to scholars and students in the field
  • Where to find them: Library Catalog (or Journal Finder if you're looking for one in particular)

Conference Papers & Proceedings

Idaho Potato Conference 2022


  • Good for: Ground-breaking research in a field or subfield
  • Papers presented at a formal gathering of peers
  • Papers later published in the conference proceedings
  • Where to find them: Library Catalog


Image result for potato newspaper

  • Good for: Historical evolution of an issue as reflected in the news, current events, popular analysis of trends
  • Primary source material!
  • Company research: product development, industry news, and company histories
  • Few or no cited sources
  • Where to find them: Newspapers (or Journal Finder if you're looking for one in particular

Popular Magazines

Image result for potato travel magazine

  • Good for: Popular discussion of issues and trends, historical evolution of an issue as reflected in the news
  • Brief information on diverse, broad general-interest topics
  • Entertainment, leisure reading
  • Can include investigative journalism
  • Few or no cited sources, no bibliographies/reference lists
  • Where to find them: Library Catalog (or Journal Finder if you're looking for one in particular)

Encyclopedias & Handbooks

Image result for potato science book

  • Good for: Concise overviews of a variety of topics, background information on a topic
  • Where to find them: Library Catalog

Trade Publications

Image result for potato magazine

  • Good for: Discussion of an issue or product by people in the field
  • Articles and advertisements are intended to be useful for people who work within a specific industry.
  • Articles are often written by people with expertise in a specific field or profession
  • Publications are sometimes published by a specific trade association or professional association
  • Articles can include information about news and trends in the industry, professional development opportunities, and upcoming conferences
  • Where to find them: Library Catalog (or Journal Finder if you're looking for one in particular)

Blog Posts & Social Media

  • Good for: Discussion of current issues on a more casual level; blog posts can be very in-depth
  • Can be written by anybody, credentialed or not
  • Hashtags can trace the progress of a particular issue
  • Blog posts may or may not include reference list
  • Must be very carefully evaluated to ensure quality. Even the bad ones can be used in your research depending on the context, but understand who is writing and why they wrote it
  • Where to find them: The Internet