How to Do Library Research

This set of pages has information on how to do library research. In all cases, once you have located sources, be sure to evaluate them, using the evaluation guides.

Examples of Journal Articles Versus "Web Sources"

Lederer, Naomi. "Is it Information on the Web or a Journal/Magazine Article? A Web Guideline for Teachers."   Academic Exchange Quarterly 3.3 (Fall 1999): 67-68.

For example:
Journal of Extension (, beginning with v. 32, no. 1 (June 1994), is an electronic-only journal. It has an ISSN number and is peer-reviewed (scholarly). It has electronic access to back issues beginning with Fall 1987. The home page identifies the organization affiliated with the Journal of Extension and has instructions for authors. The articles found here are scholarly journal articles.

A magazine that publishes a print version, Time, has at ( web-only news, articles from an identified issue of the magazine, a way to search their site, an archive (with a view issues by cover option), links to the publisher's other magazine's web sites, and, on every page, electronic "no postage" subscription cards. In addition, there are electronic advertisements from other companies. With the possible exception of "Today's News," The articles found here are magazine articles.

In contrast, there are articles expressing opinions on a's Organic Gardening page There are links to essays on many topics that don't have clear "answers" or at any rate, don't have clear agreement as to what the answers should be. These essays, some with links to other pages on the web, have been selected by named "guides." Guides are self-selected; there is a "Write for About " link on every page along with's copyright statement. In other words, an essay may be extremely useful (or not), but articles found here would not qualify as a published journal or magazine article. These are "web" sources of information. [NOTE: this site has changed since this article was written and the text here modified and updated, but the articles still do not qualify as published journal or magazine articles.]

Things can be murky when it comes to educational and governmental sites. Many scholars have created valuable web sites with useful and reliable information, but these sites are not currently considered published articles. The US Government now publishes a large percentage of its sources on the web; these sources are "official"--but may or may not qualify as published articles.

For example:
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) <> is a government publication. Articles located on this site (from 1993 through the present), are respectable US Government articles.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Internet site <>, has many kinds of information of interest to consumers--press releases, materials from various centers (e.g. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition), etc. From this site it is possible to search FDA Consumer, a magazine to which individuals may subscribe (and frequently found in libraries). From the FDA Search page articles can be looked for by topic from the magazine; these are US Government articles. However, the default search is all of the site, which includes FDA Consumer articles, but also pulls up Federal Register entries, bibliographies (and parts of long bibliographies), transcripts of meetings, etc. Many of these are useful research sources, but they are not "journal articles."

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