There are many different types of information resource available to you. This page introduces you to some of the main types of information resource and their uses. Some information resources, in particular books and journal articles, are considered more suitable for use in academic study than other resources. As you study your course you will learn which information resources you are expected to use in your assignments in your subject area. To help you develop the ability to critically evaluate information, this page includes information on the SIFT test that you can use to assess the quality of an information resource.
Sometimes you will hear information resources referred to as primary and secondary sources.
Primary sources are original materials created at the time of an event or as part of a study, piece of research or a piece of work.
Examples include research data, works of art and literature, photographs, audio and video recordings, letters, diaries, governmental and organisational records, artefacts.
Secondary sources are created from primary sources or other secondary sources and analyse and interpret primary resources or other secondary information resources.
Examples include textbooks, review articles, works of criticism and interpretation.
There are some information resources that are relevant to all subject areas. This section tells you the distinguishing features of some of these generic information resources and indicates where they can be useful in your studies.
Books are comprehensive written works on a subject. Books can be available as physical printed books or electronically as e-books.
Books are good for getting an overview of a subject and finding out about the core concepts, theories and debates in a subject area.
Books are not so good for finding up-to-date research on a subject.
Journals are publications that are published on a regular basis (they may, for example, be published weekly, monthly or bi-annually) that contain articles.
Academic journals are good for up-to-date information and the latest research on a topic. Professional journals (trade magazines) are good to keep up-to-date with developments in a profession.
Newspapers are usually printed daily and contain news reports, articles and adverts. Newspapers contain the latest news from a particular country and across the world. Explore our collection of online newspapers here.
Newspapers are good for keeping up-to-date with the latest news and for historical and social research.
Newspapers are not so good for objective information or for finding peer-reviewed research and in-depth analysis.
A database is an electronic collection of information stored in a computer program that enables you to find information from the database in different ways. Databases available from the library can contain journal articles, newspaper articles, specialist information or a combination of different information resources. A full list of the databases available from the library can be found here.
Databases are good for searching across journals or other information resources to find articles or information on a particular topic.
A website is a set of pages on the internet containing information and data on a subject created by an individual or organisation. There are millions of websites many belonging to reputable organisations and individuals that provide good quality information. There are also many websites containing misleading or false information. So it is very important to evaluate the quality of any website you intend to use.
Websites are good for finding background information to help you get started with your research, for finding up-to-date information and information from the around the world.
Websites are not so good for easily finding objective and trustworthy information or peer-reviewed research.
Audio-visual materials include any resources that have been recorded in some way that can either be listened to and/or viewed. Examples include images, sound recordings, videos, television and radio programmes. We have access to BoB, a service from Learning on Screen that enables students and staff to watch or record television and radio programmes from over 65 free-to-air channels including 13 foreign language channels.
Audio-visual materials are good for providing an interactive learning experience and documentaries on a topic.
Audio-visual materials are not so good for finding peer-reviewed research or detailed information.
Determining if resources are credible or reliable can be a challenge. Whatever the source, it could be a book, a journal article, a website, a newspaper article, the SIFT Test can help you evaluate the source to determine if the information you have found is of good quality.
I: Investigate the source
F: Find better coverage
T: Trace information back to the source
This is a quick and simple approach that can be applied to all sorts of sources that will help you judge the quality of the information you're looking at. It gives you things to do, specifically, four moves you should make, whenever you find a piece of information you want to use or share
Remember, you can always ask your Librarian for help with evaluating information.
The first move is the simplest.
When you find information before you start to read it — STOP and ask yourself whether you know and trust the website or the source of the information.
If you don't, use the other moves to get a sense of what you're looking at.
Investigating the source means knowing what you’re reading before you read it. This doesn't mean you have to do an in-depth investigation into every source before you engage with it.
Taking sixty seconds to figure out where the information comes from will help you decide if it is worth reading it in full.
This initial step can also help you better understand its significance and trustworthiness.
Sometimes you don't care about the particular article that reaches you. You care about the claim the article is making.
You want to know if it is true or false. You want to know if it represents a consensus viewpoint, or if it is the subject of much disagreement.
Trace claims, quotes, and media back to the original context
What was clipped out of a story/photo/video and what happened before or after?
When you read the research paper mentioned in a news story, was it accurately reported?
Find the original source to see the context, so you can decide if the version you have is accurately presented.
There are a range of more specialised information resources available that you may also need to use in your studies. This section explains what these are and provides links to guidance on using these resources where appropriate.
Building regulations ensure that any new construction, renovations or extensions are safe and follow standards.
Explore this guide to find out about cases and law reports.
Government policies are an objective or course of action planned by a government. The main place to find government policies is usually the government website.
Welsh government policies can be found at the Welsh government website
UK and English government policies can be found at gov.uk.
Clinical guidelines are recommendations on how healthcare and other professionals should care for people with specific conditions.
The main place to find guidelines is NICE.
Clinical trials are research studies performed in people with the aim to evaluate a medical, surgical or behavioral intervention.
Here are some examples of webpages where clinical trials can be found:
Legislation are the laws that govern a country. In the United Kingdom, for example, there are Acts of Parliament and Statutory Instruments.
This guide explains how to search for legislation effectively.
Psychometric tests are activities or assessments designed to test a person's mental state, personality and thought processes. Since psychometric tests are produced by commercial companies, they are not always easy to find. The library has an A-Z guide to tests and measures that can be found in books or journal articles or that may be available within the Department of Psychology and Therapeutic Studies.
A standard is an agreed and documented way of doing something. Standards contain technical specifications or other precise criteria designed to be used consistently.
Check this guide to find out about standards.
Statistical data are pieces of data expressed in numbers.
The Office of National Statistics website is a good source of statistical data about different aspects of life in the UK.
The UK Data Service collection of data includes statistical data from major UK government-sponsored surveys, cross-national surveys, longitudinal studies, UK censuses and business.
We have several special collections that range from theatre programmes to photographs. These collections cover art, Welsh literature, photography, storytelling, education and performance, amongst other areas.
All our collections are discoverable via FINDit.
Stuart Morgan Collection
Donated by the author’s family, this collection of exhibition catalogues from the 1980s & 1990s, includes some curated by the author. Some of his selected writings are also part of the collection.
The Library has standing orders from many of the major galleries in the UK and receive the catalogues that accompany these exhibitions soon after the event. Catalogues can be discovered on FINDit, and you can search by artist, gallery or exhibition name or via the collection.
David Hurn collection
The David Hurn Collection is an archive of books and journals specialising in documentary photography, from the Magnum photographer’s personal collection.
Raissa Page collection
The Raissa Paige collection has been donated by the photojournalist and co-founder of the Format Photographers Collective.
Newport Survey Photographic Collection
The Newport Survey Photographic Collection is a collection of black and white photographs taken by documentary photography students which documented Newport in the 1980s. These photographs formed the basis of a series of 8 publications on various themes relating to the town, also called the Newport Survey. Details of the 2,200 images are available on the library catalogue and the photographs are available to view for reference only.
We have a small photographic collection of historical costumes.
George Ewart Evans collection
The collection was kindly donated by the Evans family. It contains a number of titles examining storytelling and oral history. Further information about the centre can be found at the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling.
Children's Illustrated Books
A collection of historical and contemporary illustrated books for children.
Science Fiction collection
This collection comprises of over 1500 novels, many by noted authors in the science fiction genre.
Henry Evans Theatre Programme collection
This is a large collection of theatre programmes donated by the family of the late Henry Evans. It dates from the 1940s through to 2006.
The Off-Air and Pre-Recorded DVD Collections contain a selection of television programmes, feature and documentary films to support the teaching and learning on the Campus.
Music CD collections
The collection reflects most musical genres from classical to indie, film scores to easy listening and world music to jazz.
Sound effects CD collection
The BBC Sound Effects Collection ranges in subject from transport, domestic, nature, human as well as electronically generated sounds.
The School Experience collection at the Newport campus contains a variety of media for use in the classroom. The stock is divided into infant, junior and secondary level items, with a separate collection of story books.
The CSWWE was established to promote interest and study in the literary works of Wales written in English. Its collection is housed at our Treforest campus library.
The Slide Collection, currently housed at Treforest Library, contains 40,000 slides, covering all aspects of art, media and design.