Newspapers are popular resources and are useful for finding information and commentary on current issues. Many newspapers also provide popular accounts of recent developments in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
Because newspapers are published throughout the world, they can be useful for international research. York University Libraries provides access to hundreds of newspapers and has a research guide that explains in detail how to search for newspaper articles on particular topics. For more information on finding resources, see the Research Strategies module.
Government publications (e.g., Speeches from the Throne) originate from various levels of government (municipal, provincial, federal, international). They include departmental reports, legislation, policy papers, pamphlets and many other forms.
Government publications are available in print or electronic format. York University has a government publication section in its libraries where some print publications for Canada, the United States and United Kingdom are available.
Government publications are useful when you need such information about a country as its legislation or policy on particular issues. It is important to consider the views of the current administration and the potential political or ideological biases that government documents may contain.
Closely related to government publications, much statistical data is produced by governments and international bodies (e.g., United Nations, World Bank). A common example is a census (a count of the population of a country conducted every five years). Such statistical data can inform research on numerous topics, including economic, social and environmental issues.
An archive stores primary resources such as letters, photographs, journals/diaries, maps and planning documents, notes and manuscripts, sound and video recordings, ledgers or account books, institutional records and drawings.
Individual archives provide collections of unique resources that may focus on particular issues or communities or cover a broad range of interests. For example, York University has the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collection which provides many original materials related to the history of Canadian literature and other arts.
These resources can be useful for research in almost all areas in the humanities, health and social sciences.
Maps and GIS are very specialized resources. Maps come in many forms such as base maps, land use, topographic, aerial photos, atlases and books, travel information and digital geospatial data. They can be used for any subject to visualize current or historic information. Geographic and spatial information can be available on paper, as aerial photographs, or digitally (e.g., Google Maps, Google Earth, GIS).
Maps are particularly useful for topics related to Geography, Urban Studies, Environmental Studies, Sociology, Political Science, and History. The use of geographic information is useful when you want to visually represent spatial data and see historical and landscape changes over time (e.g., mapping crime statistics using GIS to examine racial profiling in a specific city, or using aerial photos for environmental assessment by looking at deforestation patterns over time).
Most maps should have at least three things to be considered credible sources: title, scale and legend. The accuracy of a map is not solely based on the cartographer, but currency as well. For example, a political map from 1945 would have very different information than a current map in terms of political boundaries (e.g., Yugoslavia, USSR, Zaire, and Rhodesia are countries that were all once represented on maps, but are not currently). Political biases need to be considered when evaluating maps or political boundaries (e.g., Palestine/Israel/West Bank are contested boundaries represented differently on maps depending on the publisher).