Library Research Skills Tutorial About the tutorial
Planning Library Research



Books can provide in depth coverage of the subject and usually contain bibliographies that are a useful source of further references. They are usually accessible and authoritative, although they may not be as up to date as a journal article. [Information on using books]


Scholarly journals publish articles written by academics, researchers and professionals which are made available in printed or electronic form. They tend to be more up to date than books and can provide more specialised consideration of a subject. Usually they are authoritative as they have been refereed before publication by experts who evaluate them.

Popular magazines may sometimes also be of interest because they can provide a popular perspective on certain subjects. Local and national newspapers provide a primary source for historical events and they may contain useful photographs. Editorials and articles can be a further source of information but due regard must be given to the possible bias. [Information on using journals]

Theses and dissertations

As far as possible consult theses and dissertations that have been written or are currently being written on your research subject. They are a source of original and advanced research on a subject and may contain useful bibliographies. Usually you will need to consult theses in the library in which they are held. If you obtain a thesis through the inter-library loan system you will have to consult it within the library at your own institution. [Information on using theses]

Primary sources

You will probably use primary sources in your research. These can be more difficult to locate and access than secondary sources, the specific 'using resources' sections of this tutorial provide further help on this. Primary sources might be any of the following types of publications (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Official publications, eg census, parliamentary debates, public enquiries, royal commissions and statistics.
  • Annual reports of any organisation eg companies, friendly societies, charitable foundations, educational establishments.
  • Archive materials such as manuscripts, correspondence and diaries.
  • Publications of learned societies.
  • Grey literature, eg publications from pressure groups, research organisations, newsletters, fact sheets, brochures, technical reports, unpublished conference papers, curricula etc.


Websites can be very useful for researchers and can provide easy access to a large amount of current, detailed information. However they must be used with caution, any resources located on the web should be carefully evaluated. [Information on using web resources]

css xhtml 1.0
© University of London Research Library Services