Books and Book Chapters
Strengths: Provide an in-depth investigation into or discussion of a topic supported by research. Many scholarly, edited books have chapters similar to journal articles.
Weaknesses: Sometimes hard to tell if a book is scholarly.
Scholarly Journal Articles
Strengths: content is based on research findings or extensive review of existing research, written and reviewed by subject-matter experts.
Weaknesses: Written for expert readers using discipline-specific language or terminology, difficult to understand, not always very current.
Strengths: contain concise background information on a topic, describing important concepts, terms, events, people or issues. Normally a great starting point when you are just learning about a topic. Written by experts but more accessible than journal articles for non-experts.
Weaknesses: Short topic summaries may not go into enough depth on a topic. Wikipedia has reliability issues (avoid this and go for an academic encyclopedia from the library instead).
Media Sources (news, magazine articles)
Strengths: Good for current information and some analysis of current events and issues. Written by journalists for general audiences.
Weaknesses: Can be biased, sometimes written to entertain rather than inform, often not written by experts or reviewed by experts. On the Web, unreliable, "fake news" sites can pose as real news sites, and it can be hard to tell what is authentic and reliable news.
Websites & Social Media
Strengths: Easily accessible. Can find info on just about any topic. Can find government info and publicly funded info here.
Weaknesses: No review or quality control. It can be hard to assess credibility and reliability. Personal opinions can outweigh research evidence and reasoned arguments.
What is peer-review?
When a source has been peer-reviewed it been read, scrutinized and critiqued by experts and colleagues in the author's field. They evaluate the source's originality, rigour and contribution to the discipline's body of knowledge and make recommendations to a journal editor to publish it, suggest revisions, or reject it.
How does this information relate to what else you have seen or read on this topic?
What are the best tools for the information that I need?
General Search Tools
Subject Specific Search Tools (Use the subject guides to help identify these)
Background / Reference Search Tools (Use the subject guides to help identify these)
Useful Filters (on the right hand side of the results screen)
Useful Tools (in the item record)
General Searching Tips:
Less is More: Start with one or two words and then add one additional term at a time
Phrase searching: Use "quotation marks" around key ideas made up of multiple words
Truncation: Use an asterisk * to find different endings to your keywords
Use limits: These refine (narrow) your search using different restrictions
Citing and Referencing