Monthly Archives: October 2018

Assignment 2: Information Ethics, salemwitchtrial

Copyright Infringement

Anna Tingley. Billboard. Chance the Rapper Sued for Copyright Infringement. September 13, 2017.


This is a good example of copyright infringment because a man named Muhammad claims that he never gave Chance the Rapper the right to use a sample of his music and Chance the Rapper is now profiting from his original work. The source also gives information about the legal consequences of using someone else’s work and not giving them credit or not having them give you permission to use their work, such as going to court and being sued and the damages can cost a lot of money.

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Finding, citing & evaluating books: finding

The purpose of this course is, again, to make it easier for you to find the kinds of information your instructors are asking for.  While articles and web pages are fairly easy for most people to find, books are another story.    Since this is an online course, I don’t believe it’s fair to ask people to come to the library to get a book.

So, I’ve chosen to show you how to decide if a book is worth reading when all the information you have is what you can find online.

If you can evaluate a book with nothing but the information you can find online, doing so with an actual book in your hands (or on your phone, tablet, etc.) should be easy.



Libraries contain all kinds of sources, including books, ebooks, CDs, DVDs, games, etc.  How do you find them?   There are several ways:

  • Use the catalog of a specific library, such as WSU’s Stewart Library  – this is the easy way to begin.  Stewart Library’s catalog contains print books and a few online books.
  • Don’t see what you’re looking for there?  Check out our eBooks page.  We have over 140,000 books on Ebsco eBooks alone.  Most of the library’s ebooks must be read on your computer:  Ebsco eBooks is the only place you can download ebooks to a tablet, ereader,  or phone as well as a computer.
  • Then, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, try Worldcat.
  • Worldcat is a catalog of all the books from most U.S. libraries and some international libraries.   There is a free version, but it’s best to use our subscription version because you get a lot more information and it does things like fill out interlibrary loan forms for you.  You must use the subscription version to answer any assignment questions.
  • You can use Google Scholar.   One of the advantages of using Google Scholar is the  cited by feature.  When you click on the cited by link, it provides a list of other sources that cite the first source in their bibliography or reference list.  This is an easy way to find other sources on your topic.
Image showing Google Scholar's "Cite by" feature.

Courtesy of Google.

  • You can use Google Books.  This is a good way to find free online books.  The catch here is most free books are dated 1923 or earlier because of copyright law.  You will find later books listed, but will still have to use the catalog or Worldcat to look them up, so you might as well start with the catalog or Worldcat. Occasionally, you can find a more recent book that allows you to look at a number of excerpts.   A few will give you 60 pages or more.

Avoid the temptation to use these excerpts as  sources because:

    • It’s considered cheating to pull pieces from a book that’s only partially available on Google Books (or any other site).  While you don’t always need to read an entire book, you should have the whole book available.
      • If you don’t have the whole book available, you may completely miss the author’s point
      • Before using a book as a source for a paper or research project, you need to have any appendices, the index and any back matter (see below) to evaluate the book properly.
  • You can use the Internet Archive.  The Internet Archive is working to archive, or store, all kinds of online information.  This includes ebooks, both pre-1923 as well as some newer ones, video, audio, web pages, etc.  Click the menu links at the top of the page to access a specific search page for each type of source.  You can also use Project Gutenberg, which was the first online library of free books (it predates Google by years); however, I believe most people will find the Internet Archive easier to use.
    • Just for fun:  have the URL for a web page that no longer works?  Put it into the Wayback Machine and see if you can find a copy.  Click on blue highlighted dates to see snapshots.  (NOTE:  some sites have removed their information from the Archive.)
  • You can  use Amazon to find a recent book on your topic, but Amazon may  not list older, possibly useful, books on your topic AND you will still have to use a catalog to find them, unless you want to buy the book.  If you’re not sure of the title of a book, CD or DVD, Amazon is a good place to check.
  • You can do a Google or Bing, etc., search and hope a book comes up.
    • This is usually a good way to waste a lot of time.


We’re going to look at catalogs in this reading. A catalog lists what a library owns physically, for example:  print books, CDs, DVDs, etc. It also lists what a library owns access to such as online journals, ebooks, streaming music, and streaming video.   Our library catalog is available via the Stewart Library website.  To access it, click on the yellow book icon, then click on the advance search link underneath the search box.   You do not need to login to use it.  As I said above, it contains only print books and a few links to online books that haven’t been removed yet.

NOTE:  we’ve recently subscribed to the academic collection from Ebsco ebooks.  Our Ebsco eBooks contains about 140,000 ebooks on all topics.  You can download them to your computer,  phone, tablet or ebook reader.  To find these books, go to the library’s home page:  In the center column, click on eBooks   Ebsco eBooks shows up a number of different places on the eBooks page.

One very important characteristic of a catalog is that it contains large chunks of information:  Whole books,  complete DVDs,  entire CDs. This means that when you search a catalog, you will often need to use broader, or fewer, keywords & key phrases.  You may also need to use different keywords than you will use searching for articles or websites.

When I say broader keywords, I do not mea using one or two unfocused keywords, but rather focusing on the core of your research question and not the details.

For example:  I’m interested in Alexander the Great and why he decided to conquer the world.  I try searching for “Alexander the Great’ AND “world conquest” AND reasons.  After trying a number of searches, “Alexander the Great”and empire found the best books.

In order to search  a library catalog successfully, you need to use boolean and phrase searching.

A quick refresher:

  • AND search (= all of the words)  – an AND search tells the computer to find sources where all of the words you type in appear – this is the default search on Google and many library databases. Not sure if you need to add in AND?  Try the search without AND; if you don’t find much, then add the AND between keywords.
  • OR search (= any of the words) – an OR search tells the computer to find sources where at least one of the words you typed appears.  Some OR search are actually “any of the words” and “all of the words”  searches.  The easiest way to see what they’re finding is to look at your search results.  If you have at least 2 search terms appear in one result, then you have an “any or all of the words” search.
    • Always use a capital OR.  You must capitalize OR when using Google and many library databases, so it’s best just to get into the habit of typing OR.
    • IMPORTANT NOTE:  if you combine two or more words with OR, be sure to put parentheses around the words.  For example:  (adolescent OR teen).  If you leave the parentheses off, you will get weird (and bad) results.
  • NOT search   (= missing the word/words that appear after NOT)  a NOT search is very tricky to use.  You can lose good sources when you use a NOT search.
    • For example:  you need articles on teaching French.  For some reason you are getting a lot of articles on teaching Spanish.  You type the search French NOT Spanish.  You miss the perfect source because it’s  on teaching both French and Spanish. (If you are getting a whole lot of articles, then go ahead and use NOT.)
  • Phrase search (= search for ALL the words inside quotation marks, include “the,” “of,” and other little words).  This can be a really useful search, but you need to be sure to use good phrases.   “Cultural heritage” is a good phrase because you expect to see those words together in that order.  “The destruction of cultural heritage” is not a good phrase because you didn’t use words that people expect to be together.
    • One way to judge a phrase is to search for a book or an article.  If you only find a few books, then the phrase is probably not a good one.  Take the separate words (and sometime phrases) and combine them using AND.
      • For example:  use  destruction AND “cultural heritage” instead of “The destruction of cultural heritage”

Do you have to capitalize AND, OR, & NOT?   More and more library databases and other search engines are requiring you to capitalize, so you might well get into the habit. Right about now, you’re probably asking why you have to use boolean and thinking you can find sources without it (the technical term for searching without boolean or phrases is natural language searching).  That may be true a lot of the time.  You have to know boolean because:

  • You need to know how to do boolean searching for the times when natural language searching doesn’t find anything
  • Even when natural language searching works, you can use boolean techniques to save yourself from having to wade through thousands of  sources.  
  • You have to know how to use boolean searching to pass the last assignments.

You may also be thinking, why bother to use a library catalog or subscription Worldcat.  There are a couple of reasons:

  •  Information in library databases, including subscription Worldcat,  is much more structured than information just out on the web.  Structured information makes it possible for you to search in many different ways such as:  keyword, subject, author, publisher and more.  It also allows you to limit the sources that are found by date, format, location, etc.
  • Because the data is structured, if you use a good search, you will find the sources you need much more quickly then you can when using Google Books, etc.


Now you know where to search and how to search, you’re ready to try it in the real world.  I’ll continue to use the Elgin Marbles question because it provides a better example.

My research question is: Did Lord Elgin’s contemporaries consider his acquisition of the Parthenon marbles legal?  The keywords/phrases I developed are:  “Elgin Marbles,” controversy, acquisition, legality, contemporary.  

My alternative keywords are: ”Parthenon marbles,”   debate, “nineteenth century.”

The first examples are from the Stewart Library catalog, because that’s the one you will be using the most.   See the assignment example for how to search Worldcat.

  • I always start by typing all of my keywords/phrases in the general keyword box, just in case I get lucky.  Since catalogs have big chunks of information, typing in all my main keywords/phrases will probably be too focused.  
  • As I suspected, my keywords were too focused.  Next, I’m going to try searching the most important keywords/phrases, which are “Elgin Marbles” and controversy.  
  • I could have tried contemporary instead of controversy, because Lord Elgin’s purchase of the marbles was controversial to many of the people of his time, but I used controversy because sources about the controversy usually give the history of the controversy.  Using contemporary might just find what’s going on now.  (I don’t need to type AND because I know most library catalogs and databases assume you want AND between each word.)
  • Elgin marbles” controversy doesn’t find anything.  Neither does “Elgin marbles” contemporary.  I tried using “Parthenon Marbles”  instead of “Elgin Marbles.  No luck.   I try “Elgin marbles.” 

When I search, I find one source.  (Typing in “Parthenon Marbles” produces the same book.)  Since I only find one, the system takes me to a screen with information about the book (it is a book.)  This information is called a record.  Catalog records include information about the title, the author, the year of publication and for newer books, content notes.  They also list special formats, such as CDs, DVDs, etc. At the bottom of the page, there is information on which library has the book  (we have a small library on the Davis campus), the collection and the call number.  You need this information to find the book in either library.

Catalog record showing one book.

Catalog record showing one book.
Courtesy SirsiDynix

I notice the date of the book is 1960.  Even for earlier periods of history, it’s better to start with newer books.  New information is discovered all the time, even in ancient history. I decide to do another search.  I know that the Elgin Marbles are from a Greek temple called the Parthenon.  I also know (and you could ask someone) that most recent books on the Parthenon include a section of the Elgin Marbles controversy. I get the list below.

Catalog results list

Results list from a catalog search.
Courtesy SirsiDynix

  • I know (because I order books in this area) that the first book would probably have something.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t arrived yet.  (NOTE:   in real life, you can use Interlibrary Loan and we will borrow the book for you from another library.)
  • The second book, which I ordered (and also own a personal copy of) is a funny, but accurate, fake travel guide to ancient Athens.   It will not have the information I need. How do you tell the book isn’t serious if you haven’t read it?  One big clue is the cover – serious books do not show ancient statues with modern luggage.
  • The third option is a videorecording, specifically, a DVD.  The record tells me it’s a PBS video, so it’s probably decent quality.  The notes tell me that it talks about the Elgin Marbles.  I decide that the DVD will work. NOTE:  For this class, you may use a DVD or VHS on your topic instead of a book.   Always clear using a video with your  instructor.  Many will not qallowvideos as sources.
Record for Parthenon DVD.

Record for Parthenon DVD.
Courtesy of SirsiDynix

  • If my  instructor didn’t allow me to use videos, I could click on the subject heading links to try to find more books. In this case, there is one other approach I could take.
  •  Instead of looking for books on the Elgin Marbles, I could look for a book on Lord Elgin.  Lord Elgin is a title.  To find books about him, I need to know the rest of his name, which is Thomas Bruce.  I would actually search for him under the keywords:  Elgin, Thomas Bruce.
    • NOTE:  be careful when searching for people who are usually known by a title.  Library catalogs and databases have very specific ways of formatting names.  You may need to play around to find the right combination.

Example:  Queen Elizabeth I or St. Barbara are in the catalog as:  Elizabeth I, Queen of England and Barbara, Saint.

  • In some cases, we simply don’t have a book on a subject (try combinations of your keywords or different keywords before giving up.  You can ask a librarian for help too.)
  • If we don’t have a book, you will need to either use Worldcat, Google Books, etc. to find more books and borrow them using Interlibrary Loan OR use more articles instead of books.
    • NOTE:  you could also check out what the U, USU and BYU have.  Your Weber Wildcard can be used to check out books at other Utah  universities.
  • Do it the easy way:  using the bibliography of a Wikipedia article to find sources is one of the valid academic uses of Wikipedia. Make sure the book you choose is fairly new.  Choose older books only if they are primary sources or otherwise valuable (ask your instructor or a librarian).  The bibliography/reference list is also one way to judge the quality of a Wikipedia article.  Good articles have good bibliographies or reference lists. I looked at the reference list and found:
Reference from the Wikipedia article: "Elgin Marbles."

Reference from the Wikipedia article: “Elgin Marbles.”
Courtesy Wikipedia.

  • I know it’s a book, because it has a publisher, Oxford University Press.  A journal article would have an article title, journal name plus volume and page numbers.
  • I look at the description on Amazon and check out the table of contents, etc. and the book looks perfect.  The fact that it’s published by a university press means it’s probably good quality.
  •  I fill out the interlibrary loan form, get the book in about 5-7 working days, read the part that interests me. (I also scan it and the information  I need for evaluation so I have a copy if I need it)  and use it for my paper.  (If you start with Wikipedia, check our library catalog before using interlibrary loan – we might have it.

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Finding, citing & evaluating books: citing

Books are generally the easiest type of source to cite.  There are exceptions:  translations, special editions and the like can add complexity to an otherwise simple format.

As before,  the  OWL at Pturdue University  is a really good online guide to the most common styles.   Remember:  for Turabian, you’ll need to use the Chicago Style.

Notes give credit for a specific quotation,  interpretation, or other piece of information used in the body of a paper, presentation, etc.  Notes are also called footnotes, endnotes and parenthetical or author-date references.
Each type of note is, of course,  formatted differently.  There are specialized styles where the citation and the note are combined into a footnote or (rarely) endnote.   These styles are used mainly by historians and in some scientific publications.
NOTE:  Chicago/Turabian no longer includes the citation/footnote style.  Most faculty who require Chicago/Turabian use the note/bibliography (humanities)  style.  For this class, using Turabian means using the note/bibliography (humanities) style.
Word, just to make things difficult, calls notes citations.
Citations give credit to a source as a whole – a whole book, a whole article, a whole web page, etc.  Citations are also called bibliographic citations or references.   Every note should have a matching citation in the bibliography (or reference list or works cited list.)    Also list sources you consulted, even if you don’t need to use a note. (Exception:  you can leave out sources that you used only for general background, such as encyclopedias.)  
Not sure whether to include a citation?  Better safe than sorry:  include it.
Word, continuing to be difficult,  calls  citations sources in a bibliography or sources in a works cited list.
Remember that Word usage is:
  • Citation =  what most people call a note (including endnotes and footnotes)
  • Source in a bibliography, reference list or works cited list =  what most people call a citation, bibliographic citation or reference.
A bibliography is a list of sources consulted when writing a paper, preparing a presentation, research project etc.   A bibliography can be called a reference list or a works cited list.
Book citation patterns
Authorlastname, first name & any initials. Title of Book. Publisher location: Publisher name, date of publication.  Medium of publication.
Mediums are usually Print or Web.  For a complete list, see
Authorlastname, first initials. (Date of publication). Title of book. Publisher location: Publisher name.
CHICAGO/TURABIAN      Bibliography/Humanities
Authorlastname, first name.  Title of Book.  Publisher location:  Publisher name, date of publication.
Book citation examples
For all citation styles, the second and any following lines should be indented 5 spaces.  Use the hanging indent feature on your word processor.
IMPORTANT NOTE:It is very difficult to get the proper indent and spacing on the blog or on Canvas, so don’t worry about that.  Make sure the information is formatted correctly, but you don’t need to indent or double space.

Ward-Perkins, Bryan.  The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 2006.  Print.

With hanging indent & double spacing


Example of MLA book citation with double spacing & hanging indent.

Example of MLA book citation with double spacing & hanging indent.


Ward-Perkins, B. (2006.) The fall of Rome and the end of civilization.  New York:  Oxford University Press.

With hanging indent:

Example of a book with a single author in APA style.

Example of a book with a single author in APA style.



Ward-Perkins, Bryan.  The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 2006.

With hanging indent:

Example of a book citation in Chicago/Turabian bibliography/humanitie style.

Example of a book citation in Chicago/Turabian bibliography/humanities style.

These examples show a very basic book citation.  If you  have multiple authors, editors, revised editions, are using a chapter within a book, a translation, etc., you will need to add that information to your citation.  Check with the OWL@Purdue for specific examples.


First, you need to make sure that MLA 7th and APA 6th are options on your style box if you want to use those styles.   If you have updated Word when prompted, both should be available for Word 2010  and Word 2007.  They should show up automatically in Word 2013.  If not, you’ll need to apply outstanding updates.  You can start here:  Word 2003 users are out of luck – I suggest you (and Word 2007 – 2010 people) use one of the free systems available on the web such as EasyBib or eTurabian (scroll down for APA and MLA.)

Using Word for Chicago/Turabian.  It’s complicated.  Word 365 has Chicago 16th, which is the most recent, but it only has Turabian 6th, which is two editions old.  You can try using Chicago, but in my experience, it won’t work that well.

It is much better to use eTurabian, which also does both kinds of notes as well as citations.

Whatever automated system you use, you will  need to fill out the correct boxes with the correct information.

Remember, Word uses different terminology
  • Notes = citations
  • Citations = sources in bibliographies, reference lists or works cited lists
picture of how to set up Word to do bibliographies and citations.

Start the process. Courtesy of Microsoft.

The next step in using Word to do notes and citations.

Step 2. Courtesy of Microsoft.

Once you click on Add New Source, you will get a screen with boxes.
  • Fill in the boxes with your source information.
  • See the slides later in the reading for examples

  • Choose the type of source
  • Each source will have different blanks to fill in
  • Have blank boxes?  For books, there are two main possibilities:  
    • You  chose the wrong  source type
    • You didn’t collect necessary information
Using Word to do APA book citations.

APA basic format for books.
Courtesy of Microsoft.

How to fill out Word boxes to do a book citation.Filling out the boxes for an APA 6th citation.
Courtesy of Microsoft.


  • Choose the type of source
  • Each source will have different blanks to fill in
  • Have blank boxes?  For books, there are two main possibilities:  
    • You  chose the wrong  source type
    • You didn’t collect necessary information
  • On older versions of Word, you will need to click the button at the bottom of the sources box to get additional boxes including the medium of publication.  This is not necessary on later versions.
How to start a book citation, MLA 7th, using Word.

Using Word to format a book in MLA 7th edition.
Courtesy of Microsoft.

Example of a book citation, MLA 7th, using Word.Courtesy of Microsoft.

Example of a book citation, MLA 7th, using Word.
Courtesy of Microsoft.



  • For most citation styles you will need to check the box:  Show all Bibliography Fields
  • It will not correct spelling errors
  • It will not capitalize correctly – you must do that
  • If you’ve got a fussy instructor, double check and then check again.
  • The system is often incorrect

The most common problem is putting information in the wrong boxes.


Go to the eTurabian site (they also do APA and MLA)

Using eTurabian 1

Courtesy eTurabian

Next choose your style.  Additional formats are available from the list in the center (7th edition).

How to use eTurabian 2

Courtesy eTurbian

Fill out the form.  Be sure to check the box above the title asking about capitalization. Use pages numbers only if you are doing a note.  For a citation, leave those boxes blank.  Then click submit.

How to use eTurabian 3

Courtesy eTurabian

Copy the formatted citation into Word.

How to use eTurabian4

Courtesy eturabian

As with Word, the most common mistake using any system is putting information in the wrong box.

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Filed under Books, Finding Information: Books

Finding, citing & evaluating books: evaluating

Why do you have to evaluate books found in a university library?  Aren’t they all good?

Unfortunately, no.  University libraries strive to buy the best books they can.  However, information ages: new data renders older theories and interpretations useless, and well-known  authors, such as the late Stephen Ambrose, are caught plagiarizing.  University libraries also buy books for courses on topics such as pseudoscience.

Pseudoscience & pseudohistory books can be difficult to identify unless you’re an expert in the field.  The authors of such books present evidence to support their views;  they just don’t adhere to commonly accepted scholarly methods and requirements for evidence, or claim that evidence contrary to their beliefs is made up.  Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Godsis a classic example of of pseudoscience.  Books by Holocaust deniers are an example of pseudohistory.

You need to evaluate books for other reasons as well.  You need to determine if the book is relevant for your needs, if it is current enough,  if it contains quality information and if it’s the right kind of source (scholarly/popular and primary/secondary) for your assignment.

You may also want to evaluate a book to decide if it’s worth spending your time on it.  Reading a book is a definite time commitment.


The reading on Evaluation discussed criteria for evaluating different sources.  You need to keep the chart from the Evaluation reading in mind and consider those factors.  In this reading, we’re going to look at determining if the book is scholarly or popular.


Check out the cover and title.  You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, BUT the cover plus the title will often give a hint as to whether it’s popular or scholarly. 

Probably Scholarly

  • Cover is plain, or uses a piece of art or a photograph related to the subject of the book
  • Title suggests a work aimed at an audience of specialists.  For example:

    Example of a scholarly book cover

    Example of a scholarly book cover

Probably popular

  • Covers have bright interesting art of different types in order to attract buyers.
  • Non-fiction titles suggest a work that will interest readers with a variety of interests and backgrounds.

NOTE:  It can be very difficult to tell if history books are popular or scholarly.  As a general rule, the scholarly books will have significantly more notes and references and more extensive use of primary sources.   Sources in a foreign language are less likely to be translated.

Popular book cover

Popular book cover

Possibly trade

  • Covers can look like popular or scholarly, so you need to check the title.
  • Title should contain a hint that the work has a practical, how-to orientation

    Trade book cover

    Trade book cover


The book cover shown below is primary and scholarly.

Cover of a book that looks popular, but is scholarly & popular.Courtesy of Amazon.

Cover of a book that looks popular, but is scholarly &  primary.
Courtesy of Amazon.


  • Do they have a degree in the field that they’re writing about?
  • Are they affiliated with a university, museum, or other reputable group?
  • What is their reputation in their field?  (You’ll need to use a search engine to find out)
  • Look for where they work,  a brief bio on  a university department web page, lists other publications, etc.

Authors who meet all or most of the criteria above are most likely scholarly.  Popular books are often written by journalists and others without academic credentials.   Some popular books are written by experts who are presenting their work in an easily understandable fashion and, just to make things difficult,  some journalists write books with the rigor expected of those with extensive academic credentials.

You’re probably wondering how you’re supposed to find all of this information.   (Yes, you are expected to track down this kind of information.)
  • Find and read:  forewords, afterwords, cover blurbs,  etc. – they often have useful information.  This is why you need the whole book even if you don’t read all of it.  Don’t even think of grabbing a couple of pages  off of Google books unless you can find enough information about the author and the rest of the book.
  • Check the editorial reviews on Barnes and Noble  (they usually have the best editorial reviews) or Amazon.
  • Barnes and Noble editorial reviews often give author affiliation – click on the Overview tab.  (You may need to scroll down.)

    Example of author information from Barnes & Noble.

    Example of author information from Barnes & Noble.
    Courtesy Barnes & Noble.

  • You can look at reader reviews, but you must be very careful using them.  Drop the one  star and five-star reviews.  Look for the two – four star reviews that say specifically why they did or didn’t like the book AND that give examples from the book.
  • Read book reviews.  Academic Search Premier and JSTOR are good places to look for book reviews.  Most subject databases will also have reviews of books in those subject areas.
  • You can ask a professor.  Just be aware that they have their biases too.
  • You can try Wikipedia or do a search, but then you have to be concerned about the quality of the information that you find.
If the author is an academic and/or has scholarly credentials, the book is probably scholarly. Even if popular, it is probably a well done book.  And yes, journalists can write books that are good enough and well documented enough to be called scholarly.  Check with your professor before using one of these – some instructors don’t want books unless they’re written by academic historians.
 Check out the publisher of a book.  Books are usually scholarly if they are published by:
  •  A university press.  University presses usually include the word “university” in their name.
    For example:  Oxford University Press, University of Chicago Press, etc.
  • A professional organization.  The words “association,”  “society,”  “institute,” and related terms will usually appear in the name.
    For example: the  Modern Language Association and the Geological Society of America.
  • Trade books are often published by professional organizations and some specialty publishers.
  • There are also some important publishing companies that specialize in academic books.
    For example:  Wiley, Elsevier, ABC-CLIO, and Routledge.
  • In addition to specialty publishers, many of the large publishing companies, such as HarperCollins, have an academic branch.


Front matter is the stuff before you get to the actual book content.  If your book includes a foreword, introduction, prologue, prolegomenon, etc. that discusses the authors and their work AND there is a detailed table of contents,  this is a strong indication that the book is scholarly.
The stuff at the back of the book, after the main content, is called back matter.  Good indicators of a scholarly book include:
  • afterword – this is similar to a foreword, but is at the end of the book.  Often, an author will give more information as to why s/he wrote the book the way they did.
  • references, works cited or bibliography
    NOTE:  for history books and older books in all field, check for footnotes that include bibliographic information (citations).
  • appendices (singular = appendix).  An appendix contains additional  information that supports the author’s thesis, but doesn’t really fit into the main body of the book.
  • an extensive index.  Popular books frequently have a fairly short index that links to the major topics.  In most scholarly books,  you can find reference to a large number of small, sub-topics as well.
  • maps or illustrations (these can also be listed in the front matter – occasionally, they are part of the front matter, they can also be in the body of the book) Are maps, illustrations, photos, etc. good quality and well labeled?
Remember that these criteria are indicators.  The more of the indicators listed above  a book has, the more likely it is scholarly.  The fewer the indicators,  the more likely the book is popular.  Trade books should have the practical, how- to orientation.

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Information types & formats 1: sources classified by audience

Why do you need to learn about types and formats of information?  Well, for one, it’s one of the learning outcomes for this class.  More importantly,  the inability to find and use the right kinds of sources is one of the major roadblocks between students and good grades on history  (& other) papers.  Finally, the more you know about finding the right kinds of sources, the easier it is to find and identify them.

This reading introduces the main types and formats of information in all fields, including history.  As you’ll discover later in the reading,  history sources are not as easy to distinguish as those in other fields.  Future readings will look at more specific types of sources.

Information Formats

Let’s start with the easy part:  formats.  The word format has a number of meanings; for this post, we’re looking at the format or makeup or composition of something.  The most common formats you’ll deal with doing academic research are print and online; however, there are others such as  CDs, DVDs, streaming music & videos, and microforms.

Most instructors accept a variety of formats as long as you choose relevant sources of the correct information type.

Information Types

There are three basic ways to divide information types for academic purposes.  These are:

  1. sources classified by audience
  2. sources classified by closeness
  3. sources classified by quality measure

These classifications refer to non-fiction (with a few rare exceptions.)

Sources classified by audience

The three main types of sources classified by audience are:

  1. popular
  2. scholarly (also known as peer reviewed or refereed)
  3. trade

Popular sources are those that are created for the general public.  They may be any format:  print, online, DVD, etc.

Popular sources:

  • are written in every day language; if there are technical or unusual terms, the terms are defined & examples given
  • are often written on broad topics or as an introduction to a topic.  Usually  written by journalists or freelance writers  or “anonymous” (usually an editor or staff writer.)
  • rarely have notes or bibliographies (reference lists).  Some will have lists that contain suggestions for further reading and/or notes that provide more information on the content
  • are often very colorful with a lot of illustrations and photos
  • are found in grocery stores, bookstores and airports in addition to libraries.  Many are also available on the web.
  • may be print or online books, magazines, and newspapers, or general websites.


Scholarly sources are those that are created for experts and for students studying the subject area.  They may be any format:  print, online, DVDs etc.

Scholarly sources:

  • are written by experts in the field
  • are written for an audience of other experts (and students who have to learn the information)
  • are usually peer reviewed or refereed
    • this means they been judged by a panel of fellow experts and found worthy of publication
  • have notes and a reference list or bibliography
    • in some history and arts and humanities sources, there is no bibliography or reference list.  All the necessary information is given in footnotes.
  • are often published by, or in conjunction with,  universities, museums or other institutions
    • they may also be published by specialty academic publishers such as Oxford, Wiley or Elsevier
  • most common types are: journal articles and books, either print or online
  • there are also a few scholarly websites

 All scholarly sources have the things listed above in common.  However,  there are differences between scholarly sources in the sciences, technology & engineering, social science and professional fields and scholarly sources in history and the arts & humanities.

Scholarly sources in the science, technical, social science and professional fields (health, business, etc.)

  • Report on experiments, studies or research performed by the authors
  • Are usually written about a very narrow, focused topic
    • literature reviews are an exception:  they review previous research on a topic
  • Use technical language with a lot of specialized words

Scholarly sources in history and the arts & humanities

  • are written about original research on an historical, literary, artistic or performance topic
  • are usually focused, but occasionally cover broad topics
  • rarely use technical language; instead, they use formal, academic language


Trade sources are written for practitioners in a field.  They focus more on “how-to” information.  They may be any format.

Trade sources:

  • contain practical, how-to information as well as information about the field, such as best practices, finding a job, rules and regulations, etc.
  • may have some scholarly research articles, but focus is practical
  • use language and terms specific to that field 
  • are often produced by professional associations or publishers who specialize in the field

NOTE:  the line between scholarly, popular and trade can be hard to determine.  In some fields, such as health science, education and criminal justice, an instructor may allow you to use a well- researched trade article in place of a scholarly article – ASK FIRST!


Other types of sources classified by audience

  • Textbooks
    • are usually in a category by themselves
    • are closest to trade, since they are teaching students about a field
    • as a rule, you should not use textbooks as a source for academic research
  • Newsletters
    • news about a subject or profession
    • can be very general: for example, news about science
    • can be very specific: for example, news for passenger airline pilots
    • always popular or trade, never scholarly
  • Reviews

    • opinion pieces about books, movies, music, plays, etc.

    • can be found in scholarly, popular or trade publications in print and on the web
    • b

      ook reviews in scholarly journals are NOT scholarly

    • Use reviews for background information, do NOT use them for academic research

      • Exception: people researching performing arts productions often use reviews of productions

  • Editorials, opinion pieces, letters

    • o

      pinions by different people on a variety of subjects

    • c

      an be found in scholarly, popular or trade publications in print and on the web

    • c

      an be used as examples in academic research – not as articles

    • t

      hey are popular or trade even if they appear in a scholarly publication

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Information types & formats 2: sources classified by closeness

From the first post:
There are three basic ways to divide information sources for academic purposes.  These are:
  1. sources classified by audience
  2. sources classified by closeness
  3. sources classified by quality measure

These divisions refer to non-fiction (with a few exceptions.)

Sources classified by closeness
The second way to classify academic sources is by closeness.  Closeness to what?  Closeness to the original event, original time period, original research, or original idea.
The two main types of sources classified by closeness are:
  1. primary
  2. secondary

This classification usually refers to non-fiction, but does occasionally include fiction (for example:  using a Greek play as a primary source for a history article.)

Primary sources are those that are closest to an original event,  original time, original research or original idea.


  • An eyewitness account in print, audio or video, including oral histories.
  • An original document such as letters, contracts, deeds, and even an early graphic novel written in Greek about the labors of Hercules.
  • A YouTube or news video shot by someone who was there (or by security cameras, CCTV, etc.)
  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • A report on research written by the people who did the research, usually published as a journal article, but sometimes published as a monograph.
  • A news or documentary photograph
  • An object, such as a mummy (from the Louvre Museum, Paris), a painting, or an old car

Primary sources can be popular, scholarly or trade, but in history, they are often popular.

Adapted primary sources

Adaptations of primary sources include photographs and  reproductions of original objects, and translations from an original language.  Adapted primary sources provide access to primary sources such as paintings, mummies, manuscripts, statues, Greek inscriptions, and buildings that are inaccessible for a variety of reasons.

Adaptations usually count as a primary source, but check with your professor to be sure.
HOWEVER:  you must use adapted sources  produced by reputable groups such as museums, universities, respected publishers and so on.   For most undergraduate research, you can use Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons,  and Flickr Creative Commons for images IF the image includes source information and shows copyright information.  When using Creative commons, make sure you stay in the free section, and cite the image as the license requires.

Examples of adapted sources:

It’s still best to look at the original source if you can, because:
  • when you adapt or reproduce something, you change it
  • you can’t tell what the original is made of  or how it was made
  • in the case of photographs and 3-D objects, you can only see one side

Virtual reality techniques provide 3-D views, but still don’t capture information such as texture, ink composition, material, and rarely show pen marks, chisel marks, etc.

When using translations, either use critical editions or choose reputable publishers such as university presses and other academic publishers.  (In critical editions, the translator tells you why s/he made the choices s/he did in when translating the text.)
Secondary sources are further away from the original event,  time, research or idea.  They may be::

Primary & secondary works can be popular or scholarly or trade.


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Information types & formats 3: sources classified by quality measure

From post 1:

There are three basic ways to divide information sources for academic purposes.  These are:

  1. sources classified by audience
  2. sources classified by closeness
  3. sources classified by quality measure

These classifications refer to non-fiction.

Sources classified by quality measure:

  • Peer reviewed / Refereed
  • Edited
  • No determination

Peer reviewed & refereed

Peer Reviewed and referred mean essentially the same thing:
  • An article is submitted to a journal or a monograph to a book publisher.
  • The editor sends it out to a 2-3 anonymous reviewers making sure the author  is anonymous too.

    • In very specialized fields, reviewers & authors may know or guess each other’s names, but they’re still supposed to be objective.
  • The reviewers are experts in the article or book’s subject area.
  • They review the information and send back comments for the author.
  • The author fixes any problems and eventually the information is published.
  • Sometimes the problems are too severe to fix or the author chooses not to fix them and the information is not published.
The review of the information by other experts helps to ensure that most information in scholarly journals  or in monographs is of high quality.  In general, the process works well; however, it can sometimes  make it difficult for new ideas to get published.  Occasionally, bad information makes it into publication.  Often, this is because more recent information renders the older information useless. Sometimes, there is fraud on the part of the author.   Fortunately, this is rare.  If fraud or significant error is discovered,  the publisher retracts the article or book.  One famous example is the article that first claimed vaccines cause autism and bowel disease.  After numerous studies, no supporting evidence has been discovered.  What has been found is that the author fabricated data and was involved in a scheme to make money on testing for people bringing court cases.
With edited sources, an author turns in work to an editor, who then suggests changes if necessary.  Edited sources include journal, magazine & newspaper articles, and books.  Websites, newscasts and blogs often have editors as well.
  • An editor for a journal or magazine or newspaper or book looks over the information.
  • It may also be looked at by a fact checker, who makes sure the author’s claims are factually correct, and a copy editor who reviews for grammar, spelling, etc.
  • The information is published.
  • Usually, the review is not as rigorous as that done by peer reviewers or referees; however,  many edited sources are of excellent quality.  Often, editors are experts in a specific field.    Such articles in journals may be considered scholarly or academic, but not peer reviewed.  NOTE:  literature reviews, extended letters or editorials may fit into this category.
  • Researchers may have problems evaluating an edited source because it is difficult to judge the ability of the editor.
  • Most edited sources are popular. 
    • Exception:  books of essays by experts in the field can be scholarly or trade
No determination of quality
Often, especially on the web, there is no determination of the quality of an information source by outside experts, either peer reviewers, editors,  or other experts.   For example: many blogs and personal websites fall into this category.
 In some cases, editing is done, but it difficult to determine the quality of the editing from the information given.  Wikipedia is a good example.  Most articles are edited by whoever wants to do the edits.  The featured and good categories of articles do have higher standards of editing, but even in those two instances, you don’t know who the editors are or what their expertise is.

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Assignment #2 Information Ethics Oldmed1800


Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial nominee accused of plagiarizing multiple budget proposals, October 22, 2018.

Tony Evers had plagiarized many different articles word for word. In some cases he would cancel out words or switch them out. Plagiarism is still plagiarism whether you change the words or not. His plagiarism dated back to 2012. He had plagiarized some facts sheets, where he only changed one word from the sheet.

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Assignment 2: Information Ethics kaiserwilhelm44


blippoblappo, and crushingbort. “TIPPING POINTS? MALCOLM GLADWELL COULD USE A FEW.” Our Bad Media, WordPress, 11 Dec. 2014,

This article “TIPPING POINTS? MALCOLM GLADWELL COULD USE A FEW” by authors @blippoblappo and @crushingbort show and explain the intricacies of plagiarism. Plagiarism is the act of copying, using or stealing another’s work and claiming it your own. Malcolm Gladwell didn’t exactly do this, because he cited the pieces he used from others, but this doesn’t excuse him from plagiarizing. The work he used was not under public domain and he had received no permission to use the works he did. This incident gives a good example to the thin, but clear line you must walk when using other’s work.

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Assignment 2: Information Ethics kinghenrythefifth


“Happy Birthday” song officially recognized in public domain. CBS News. June 27, 2016.

This article is a perfect example of public domain. Public domain is intellectual property that belongs to the public and that can be used freely. However, no one can own the property because it belongs to the public. The “Happy Birthday” song is a widely used song in the public. Almost everyone experiences the song in their lifetime. Thus, the song should belong to the public. In 2016, it was added to the public domain to be freely used by anyone. Thus, it is the perfect example of public domain, intellectual property for the public.


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