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Using the Right Sources

  • Briefly go over how you would use the library for this course
  • Discuss the information landscape 
  • Speak to different types of information you will encounter
  • Ask you to engage in a learning activity that can develop your critical evaluation skills
  • Share some examples of an annotated bibliography
  • Demonstrate some possibilities of how to break down your topic
  • Demonstrate how to find good sources using the Library, Google and Google Scholar
  • Direct you to citation resources and where to get help

Artifact Assignment

  • You are asked to refer to at least 1 outside good quality (preferably scholarly in nature)  resource in your report. 

Annotated Bibliography

  • You are asked to consult and annotate five academic/scholarly resources. 

**Please refer to the prompts and rubrics posted on D2L for complete instructions and grading criteria

Possible Topics:

Why using good sources matter...

When you endeavor to find sources related to a topic of interest for your academic writing, you are demonstrating a number of skills

  • You are able to synthesize a variety of information and integrate it into your own work
  • You are able to investigate the dialogue that has occurred related to an area of interest and engage in that conversation through your academic writing
  • Using good, credible reliable sources will elevate the accuracy and authority of your own work

Authority is Constructed and Contextual

Information, in any format, is produced to convey a message and is shared via a selected delivery method.  The iterative processes of researching, creating, revising, and disseminating information vary, and the resulting produce reflects these differences (ACRL par. 13).

  • Information creations are valued differently depending on the context and purpose for which they are created
  • Audience matters. Certain things are created for specific purposes and don't make one format of information better. It is up to us to discern what information process best fits our information needs.
  • In your own creation process, understand that your choices in what type of information you use, impact the purpose for which the information product you create will be used and the message it conveys.

Source: Project Cora

Strengths/Weaknesses of Common Types of Sources


Strengths: short, contains background information on a topic, normally a great starting point when you are just learning about a topic

Weaknesses: too short, print encyclopedias are out of date quickly, Wikipedia has reliability issues


Strengths: Provides an in-depth investigation into a topic

Weaknesses: too long, sometimes hard to tell whether it is scholarly

Media Sources (news, online magazine articles)

Strengths: Good for current information

Weaknesses: Sometimes biased, sometimes written to entertain, often not written by experts

Websites & Social Media

Strengths: Highly accessible, includes government info

Weaknesses: It is hard to assess credibility and reliability...anyone can post online or create a website

Scholarly Journal Articles

Strengths: often based on research findings or extensive review, written by experts, reviewed by experts (peer reviewed), provides evidence

Weaknesses: Sometimes written using discipline-specific language or terminology, hard to understand

scholarly publication contains articles written by experts in a particular field. The primary audience of these articles is other experts. ... Academics use a variety of terms and language to describe this: "peer-reviewed", vetted academic, or "refereed". They all mean essentially the same thing and refer to the editorial and publication process in which scholars in the same field review the research and findings before the article is published, checking for validity, originality, and quality. 

  Scholarly / Peer-Reviewed Popular/Not Scholarly
Author Expert Journalist / Professional Writer
Review Reviewed by an editorial board or other experts ("peers") Reviewed by an editor
Audience /
Scholars and students / Academic
Technical language
General public
Easy to understand

Original Research
Uses previously published literature for background

News and practical information
Uses a variety of sources for background 
Sources Always cited Sometimes cited

Peer-reviewed articles
Scholarly books
Literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analysis
Thesis and dissertations

Academic encyclopedias

Magazine articles
Newspaper articles
Blog articles
web encyclopedias (wiki)
Social media

  1. What are the author’s credentials? Is it written by an expert?
  2. Published in a journal (is there a DOI?) If you are not sure if it is a journal article enter the title of the publication into Ulrichs Web
  3. Academic language
  4. Includes reference list
  5. Length
  6. A "Received" and "Accepted" date
  7. Is it an actual article? Sometimes other types of content are included in scholarly publications, such as editorials/opinion pieces and book reviews.  Make sure you are looking at an article. 


Cappellini, B., Kravets, O., & Reppel, A. (2019). Shouting on social media? A borderscapes perspective on a contentious hashtag. Technological Forecasting and Social Change145, 428-437.

Wang, R., Liu, W., & Gao, S. (2016). Hashtags and information virality in networked social movement: Examining hashtag co-occurrence patterns. Online Information Review40(7), 850-866.

Activity: Is It Scholarly?

To make sure we are all on the same page, let's put our knowledge to the test.

Skim the following resources available through the links keeping in mind the characteristics we have discussed in class (for example: what is this information and where did it come from? Was it written by an expert? Where is this source published?).

Vote whether you think this source is Scholarly or Not Scholarly.


Scholarly: 11 votes (17.74%)
Not Scholarly: 51 votes (82.26%)
Total Votes: 62
Scholarly: 47 votes (100%)
Not Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 47
Scholarly: 1 votes (1.96%)
Not Scholarly: 50 votes (98.04%)
Total Votes: 51
Scholarly: 12 votes (21.82%)
Not Scholarly: 43 votes (78.18%)
Total Votes: 55
Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Not Scholarly: 41 votes (100%)
Total Votes: 41
Scholarly: 25 votes (80.65%)
Not Scholarly: 6 votes (19.35%)
Total Votes: 31
Scholarly: 20 votes (62.5%)
Not Scholarly: 12 votes (37.5%)
Total Votes: 32

Scholarly Sources 

  • Are written by experts
  • Are reviewed by experts
  • Always consult other research/scholarly sources (include a list of references)
  • Will normally be in the form of scholarly books, scholarly journals and scholarly encyclopedias

Credible Sources

  • Will also point you to other evidence or sources (either through links or a reference list)
  • Will not demonstrate bias
  • Will normally be in the form of reputable magazines (that cite sources), reputable news (that cite sources) or government websites or statistical data (that cite sources)

Finding Sources

What is it?

An annotated bibliography is a list of references with a brief description

  • Includes complete bibliographic information (a citation)
  • Summarize the work – describe the content of the article
  • Evaluate the work – critically look at the scope or main purposes of the work. 
  • Note authority (who wrote it) and any possible biases
  • Determine the relevance – discuss how the source is relevant to your topic
  • Do NOT use the abstract to summarize, use your own words
  • Demonstrates that you have taken the time to look at a variety of sources to support your topic

Things to Remember

To avoid plagiarism when paraphrasing, remember these five important points:

1) Your paraphrased text should be significantly different from the original (i.e. don't just change a few words here and there)

2) You must change the structure of the sentence or paragraph you are paraphrasing, not just the words.

3) If you use anyone else's words verbatim (word for word) you need to put quotation marks around it.

4) Use proper citation methods to give credit for the ideas, opinions, or theories you are presenting.

5) Check that you have preserved the original meaning of the text in your paraphrased version

What do I need to include?

An annotated bibliography entry consists of two components: the Citation and the Annotation. For this assignment, use APA style format (7th ed.)

Generally, an annotation is approximately 100-300 words in length (one paragraph). However, your professor may have different expectations so it is recommended that you clarify the assignment guidelines.

An annotation for this assignment should include the following information:

  1. A brief summary of the source - what are the key arguments and conclusions?
  2. Why the source is relevant to your selected research topic.
  3. If any, are there any obvious biases that should be addressed.

Examples of Annotated Bibliographies and how to format 

Your Research Question

  • Clear: easily understood by your audience
  • Focused: narrow enough to allow you to address it in your assignment
  • Concise: expressed in the fewest possible words
  • Complex: Cannot be answered with yes or no. Is not a leading question
  • Open: open to research - should generate more questions
  • Phrase your topic in the form of a research question

Figure 2. Copely, R. Huge stand in the market with a large selection of fruits [Photograph].

What words would you use to describe this image? 

Questions to consider

  • Are you using the terminology that an expert in the field would use?
  • Is there more than one way to spell the word?
  • Are there any synonyms or other terms that could apply to your topic?
  • Are there sub-topics that can help you specify or narrow down your topic? 
  • Consider writing out your topic in a sentence and then highlighting the different concepts within. 

Using the Library 

There are a few ways to use the library.  

  • Use the library search box/Library Search - allows you to search the entire collection.  
  • Search in subject-specific databases - I have them listed under the articles tab on the GNED  guide.  You will be searching a smaller collection of sources.
  • Search in discipline-specific journals - This type of search will definitely yield fewer results.  It helps to know the publication title to use this feature effectively, but you can also type in a broader topic, as long as that word is contained within the title of the journal  Eg: forensic


Search Smarter!

You can search in a way to combine or omit different terms by telling the search engine exactly what you want…this can help you save some time (and frustration!)

  • Use quotation marks to keep phrases together - "Black Lives Matter"

  • Use  AND to combine search terms - "police violence" AND protester

  • Use OR to connect two or more similar terms - BLM OR "Black Lives Matter"

  • Use wild cards to substitute a letter or suffix with a symbol - demonstr*


Library Search

Things to remember when using Library Search:

  1. Sign in to save searches, items, and to request materials.

  2. Use the pin icon to save books and articles. 

  3. Use the filters on the right. You will use Availability, Resource Type, and Date filters most often.

  4. Some items won't be available. You can request unavailable items using interlibrary loan.

  5. When viewing an item record, scroll down to the Get It or Full Text section to get the item.

Search Google Scholar

Google Scholar is another great way to find peer-reviewed/scholarly material. Google Scholar has a nifty citation chaining function.  The Cited by function will forward you to indexed scholarly material that has cited an article that you may be interested in.  The Related Articles link will direct you to similar articles that may have the same metadata or keywords. 

The Advanced Search is found by clicking the menu icon (top left).
Besides providing links to articles in MRU databases, Google Scholar links to online repositories that contain articles the author has been allowed to upload. and ResearchGate are among the repositories searched by Google Scholar.

By clicking on the Settings icon, you can select library links to show library access for up to 5 libraries (type in Mount Royal and click on save).  If you are logged into the MRU library, links should automatically populate if you are running a Google search in another window. 

Note: Google uses different commands: ~; -; +; but AND/OR also works

If you are searching Google (not Google Scholar), you can also limit your search to show specific websites. Eg:

  • (United Nations)
  • (Government of Canada)
  • (UNESCO)
  • (World Bank)
  • (World Trade Organization)

Generative AI is getting a lot of hype - it has been around for a while but is accelerating at a rapid speed.  These tools offer a variety of functions including generating text from a prompt,  providing summaries of information, fixing and generating code, creating an image from a prompt, and translating text. 

If you are interested in trying it out, it is recommended that you treat it as a supplementary tool rather than your primary approach to research and writing.  Apply the same critical evaluation tools to AI as you would any source.  

Many AI tools fabricate results.  See the example below:

These answers are a bit problematic...why? 

"Digital Activism: The Role of Social Media in the Black Lives Matter Movement".  

-attempted to run a title search in Google and Google Scholar and it seems like a fake article.  J. Smith is such a generic name that it is hard to discern any additional information about the author. 

"From Hashtags to Street Protests: Examining the Evolution of Digital Activism in the Black Lives Matter Movement"

-Could not find an author or an actual article connected to this title.  It looks like this source is the most similar. 

"Black Lives Matter and the Power of Social Media Activism"

-Running a Google Scholar search, there are other authors with the same last name who have published in the area of activism and social media, but the article itself does not exist

"Tweeting for Justice: An Analysis of Twitter's Role in the Black Lives Matter Movement"

-Again, this article does not exist. 

  • Cite Sources: Learn the correct way to cite sources by using these guides, tutorials, and videos.
  • Referencing Webinars: APA & MLA. Referencing Webinars are 75 minutes long.  Registration is required.
  • Online Appointments: Personalized online 30-minute appointments with a Learning Strategist

REMINDER: Take the APA Referencing Tutorial on D2L!

This self-paced 90-minute tutorial covers the same content as our live workshop—why citation is important along with the basics of in-text citations and reference entries in APA Style. Students who complete the tutorial will gain access to a form they can fill out and submit as proof of completion.

Access the tutorial on D2L: Using Google Chrome as your web browser, log in to D2L ( with your account. Click the “Discover” tab, then type “APA” in the search bar. Click on the “APA Referencing Tutorial” link and then the “Enroll in Course” button. If you have any questions about the tutorial, contact

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Madelaine Vanderwerff

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