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Today's Library Session

Today's class will cover the following:

  • How to identify the best search terms for a topic
  • How to tell if a source is credible
  • How to find scholarly articles using LibrarySearch and Google Scholar
  • How to find a book or book chapter using LibrarySearch
  • Tips for more efficient Google searching

Evaluating Sources for Credibility

Take a look at your assigned source and answer the following questions. You do not need to read the source in full.

Question 1: What type of source is it? (i.e. scholarly journal article, scholarly book, magazine article, government publication, blog post)

Question 2: How trustworthy do you find the information provided in this source? Would you use it to support an argument you are making in your paper?

Assigned sources

Group 1 - The Impact of Fare-Free Public Transport on Travel Behavior: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial

Group 2 - Reimagining Sustainable Cities: Strategies for Designing Greener, Healthier, More Equitable Communities

Group 3 - The Case for Making Public Transit Free Everywhere

Group 4 - City of Boston Fare Free Program: Mid Program Report

Group 5 - The Case For Making Public Transit Free: Is It A Good Idea?

When evaluating a source for its reliability and usefulness, consider the following questions. Note: It is often not enough to look on the source itself for the answers to these questions - you may need to fact check information using other trusted sources.

Making your Research Topic Searchable

Once you have decided on your research topic, the next step is to break it up into keywords that can be used to find sources to support your argument.

Open the following Jamboard. We will walk through identifying key concepts and generating keywords for our search in class together.

Finding Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Characteristics of a Peer Reviewed Scholarly Article

  • Author or authors are experts in their field. It will list the institution/research institute that they are affiliated with e.g. Mount Royal University
  • Article appears in a publication that employs peer review to ensure the quality of the articles it publishes. This is usually indicated on the journal homepage or you can refer to Ulrich's Directory where journals with peer review are indicated with a striped referee shirt next to the title 
  • The title will be very specific, clearly identifying the research question the article is exploring
  • The intended audience is other experts in the field, so the language used may include lots of jargon or advanced terminology. Give yourself extra time to read the article for this reason.
  • The article itself will be long (typically more than 3 pages)
  • Outside sources of information are clearly cited throughout (you should expect to see a lot of footnotes/endnotes/entries on a bibliography)

Examples of Peer Reviewed Scholarly Articles

LibrarySearch refers to the search box on the Library homepage

Tips for Using LibrarySearch to Find Scholarly Articles

  • To search for different endings for a word, use the asterisk e.g. canad* finds Canada and Canadian
  • Use quotation marks to search for exact phrases "public transportation"
  • Log in to LibrarySearch to pin and save articles and to see the greatest number of search results from off campus
  • Once you have run your search, use the limits on the left hand side to limit to Peer Reviewed and Resource Type - Articles.
    • Note: The peer reviewed limit doesn't work perfectly - you have to look at the full text of the article to confirm it is a scholarly research article. Refer to the characteristics listed in an earlier tab.

Image of filters in LibrarySearch. Peer reviewed and resource type - articles limits have been selected.

Google Scholar is another tool that can be used to find peer reviewed scholarly articles. Please note that there isn't a review process as to what gets added to Google Scholar, so make sure you critically evaluate the sources you find.

If you are using Google Scholar at home, it is important to change the settings to see links to the full text of articles through MRU Library

In Settings, select Library Links. Search for MRU Library. Check the box "Full-text@MRU Library" and click save.

You will now see links for Full-Text@MRU Library next to your search results

Screenshot of an article in Google Scholar, showing the full text at MRU library that appears to the left of the title. This can be used to access the article full text from off campus.

Finding Scholarly Books and Book Chapters

Characteristics of a Scholarly Book

  • The author or authors are experts in their field. Their institutional affiliation might be noted in the book's introduction or an "about the authors" section. If you don't see this information, you can typically confirm their background by searching for their name. Most university researchers will be featured on university's website. 
  • Scholarly books do typically go through a review process that involves obtaining feedback from an expert or multiple experts in the field
  • The book is published by an academic press (e.g. Oxford University Press, University of Toronto Press) or a publisher that specializes in academic books (e.g. Routledge) 
  • The intended audience is other experts in the field, so the language used may include lots of jargon or advanced terminology.
  • Sources are clearly cited throughout the book (you should expect to see a lot of footnotes/endnotes/entries on a bibliography).

Examples of Scholarly Books or Chapters in Edited Scholarly Books

Tips for Finding Books using LibrarySearch

  • There isn't a limit for scholarly books (the peer reviewed limit only works with journal articles), so you will need to take a look at the book itself to make sure it is a scholarly discussion of the topic
  • You can limit to books and book chapters under Resource Type
  • Books are tagged with subject headings, so if you find one useful book, you can use the subject to link to similar books

Screenshot of record of book Do androids dream of electric cars with subject headings like urban transportation and local transit


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Cari Merkley

Phone: 403.440.5068
Office: EL4423U