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What are books and why use them?

Books can provide comprehensive overviews or extra background and introductory information that is not covered in journal articles. If you are looking for historical information or theory, books are a great place to start.

Difference between articles and books

Books are much more comprehensive than articles and aim to tell you everything about a topic. They can be quite long! Journal articles are much shorter and cover a very specific aspect of a topic.

Sometimes you can tell from the title if an item is a journal article or a book. Article titles are much more detailed while book titles can be more general.

Activity - Give it a try!
Given just the titles below, can you tell which ones are book titles? Slide the titles into the appropriate box. When the answer is correct, the title will stay in the box.
Space use and social ecology of coyotes (Canis latrans) in a high-elevation ecosystem: Relative stability in a changing environment.
Coyotes: Biology, behavior, and management
Neuroendocrine-Immune Systems Response to Environmental Stressors in the Cephalopod Octopus vulgaris
Motor skill for tool-use is associated with asymmetries in Broca's area and the motor hand area of the precentral gyrus in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)
Octopus: Physiology and behaviour of an advanced invertebrate
Wild cultures: A comparison between chimpanzee and human cultures
Books
Articles

Parts of a scholarly book

The anatomy of a scholarly book is consistent, whether it is a print book that you find on a library shelf or an ebook that you find online in the Discovery Search. It should have a title page, a copyright page, a table of contents and in many cases, but not all, an index.

Parts of a scholarly book [0:47 minutes]. Download video as powerpoint slides.

What's the difference between an author and an editor?

Books can be written by one person (or a team of people) or they can be assembled by an editor, with each chapter written by a different person. The chapters in an edited book are thematically linked with each individual chapter covering a very specific part of that larger theme.

Example
page last updated on: Tuesday 16 January 2018
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