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Research Guides

Library and Information Science Literature, Publishing, and Communication

Overview of LIS literature, incl. LIS reference resources, LIS publishing landscape, & communication process. Distinguishes between scholarly and professional literature.

Types of professional literature with examples

1. Professional journals

  • Provide practitioners with information that helps them to do their job
  • Keep people current with developments, issues, and trends in the profession
  • May give overviews of research in the field
  • May include job advertisements
  • Some are peer-reviewed, some are not
  • Articles are often shorter than in scholarly journals
  • List of references are usually shorter
  • Many are published by associations
  • Tend to have more regular publication schedule than scholarly journals (e.g. monthly, bimonthly)
  • Where they come from: Associations and other professional organizations; commercial publishers.

Examples of specific types of professional journals:

A. General interest: 

B. By type of library:

C. By type of information work and/or audience: 

D. By region or country

E. International:

2. Indexes to the journal literature (article databases)

  • Citations, abstracts, and fulltext links to the articles within many journals, both scholarly and professional.
  • Published by a company, not created by a library
  • In the online environment, are now commonly called article databases
  • May include other types of documents as well, e.g. conference papers, selected theses


3. Annuals & annual reviews

  • Collection of essays/articles/chapters published once a year
  • Published by commercial publishers, or often by professional associations
  • Meant to give an overview of trends, issues, and developments in a field, along with critical analysis
  • Cover both scholarly and professional issues
  • Some issues may have a special theme
  • Each article/chapter written by an expert in the field.
  • Review articles will survey the literature and current research in specific topic areas, providing a goldmine of bibliographic citations at the end of the each article.


  • Advances in Librarianship -- Emerald  [about] [print] [online]
    The theme for Vol 38 (2014) is 'Management and Leadership Innovations'
  • Annual Review of Information Science & Technology (ARIST)  -- ARIST  [about] [print] [online]
    Vol.  45 (2011) includes a section on scholarly communication. 
    There is an article devoted to scientific peer review, which includes 13 pages of citations to other works on the topic.

4. Encyclopedias (Subject)

  • A work containing information on all subjects, or limited to a special field or subject, arranged in systematic order...comprehensive, usually written by experts. (Harrods)
  • Excellent source for gaining an overview of a topic in a specific field
  • Entries written by both researchers and practitioners
  • Entries can be many pages long, with extensive bibliographic references
  • A recommended starting point when approaching a topic


5. Directories

  • A list of of people, companies, institutions, organizations, etc. in alphabetical or classified order, providing contact information..and other pertinent brief format, often published serially. (Dictionary for Library & Information Science)
  • Different types:  directories of libraries; directories of businesses, directories of serial publications, etc.


6. Almanacs & yearbooks

  • A consolidation of facts, statistics, reports, the year-in-review, and other types of information pertinent to the field, in that given year.
  • Very useful in gaining a sense of the issues, trends, and overall landscape of a subject area, or profession
  • A yearbook of an organization will give an overview of its work for the year, and contain other information, such a directory of its membership.


  • Library & Book Trade Almanac [print]  - formerly known as Bowker's Annual
  • CILIP Yearbook 2010  [print]  - from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, UK

7. Dictionaries & glossaries

  • Dictionaries provide definitions, descriptions, and usage of the terminology of a discipline
  • They can be focused on a broad subject area, or cover specialized areas with the subject.


8. Guides to the literature / bibliographies

  • Identify and describe the range of material that can be contained in a subject area, or specialization within that area
  • Often includes information about multiple formats -- print, electronic, microforms, etc.
  • May provide evaluative information, and may contain annotations
  • For librarians, guides to the reference literature of various fields can be invaluable.
  • Guides to the literature are a type of bibliography

Examples of guides to the REFERENCE RESOURCE literature, all disciplines:

  • American Reference Books Annual (ARBA) 
  • Describes and reviews reference books and e-resources in all fields of study, for a particular year or years.
  • The New Walford Guide to Reference Resources 
    Suceeds Walford's Guide to Reference Material
    . Identifies and evaluates a wide range of reference materials in all disciplines.  Currently two volumes have been published, the first on science, technology, and medicine and the second on the social sciences. Not an annual publication.

Examples of guides specifically to the literature of LIS

Example of a guide that does both of the above: