Skip to main content

Types of Sources

Take a look at the following sources. What does the format of the source tell you about the content? Who is the audience for each source? What kind of information would you expect to get from each source?

Refining A Topic

Research often begins with a broad topic. If you search in the library for broad topics, though, you will usually get very basic, general sources about your topic. The following steps can help you refine your topic:

1. Start with a broad topic - e.g. energy consumption

2. Read some general information about your topic. Go the the Background Sources tab on this page and search in one of the resources listed. Or read the Wikipedia page on your topic.

3. Keep track of the aspects of your topic that you might explore (e.g. residential energy consumption) and any useful organizations or sources that you find.

4. If appropriate, select a geographical area.

5. Choose keywords and begin searching in the library. Use keywords and ideas from your results to refine your search further.

Using Library Search

1. Use only keywords directly related to your topic/subtopic

Search for: residential "energy consumption" canada
Don't search for: trends in residential energy consumption in Canada

2. Think about related terms within the same category or concept

Search for: residential energy (coal OR hydroelectric OR wind OR gas)

3. One concept, one search

Search for: (residential OR domestic) energy production 
Search for: (residential OR domestic) energy consumption
Don't search for: (residential OR domestic) energy production consumption

Evaluating Sources

There are many ways to evaluate a source of information. Here are two:

1. Evaluating the Source

Author: Who is the author? What are her/his credentials?
Format and Process: 
What form does the source take? What process goes into publication?

Reputation:
 What can we learn about the reputation of the source?


2. Evaluating the Information

Audience/Depth of Research - is the information general or specific? Who is the intended audience?
Relevance - how closely is it related to your topic? Assignment requirements? 
Quality - On what is the information based? Observation? Testimony? Opinion?

Quantity - How much was studied? How much previous research was considered? 

Search Within a Particular Journal

For Task 2, you are asked to search the electronic version of Environmental Science and Pollution Research International  to find and access an article on your chosen topic.

To do this, go to the Library Home Page and select the 'Journals' tab above the main search box.

After searching for "Environmental science and pollution research international ," select the title from the list of results and use the 'Search inside' search box to find articles on your topic. 

Start with a simple search and make use of the filters on the right hand side of your search results.

How do I use the information that I find? Citation Resources

Research Help

Brian Jackson's picture
Brian Jackson

Contact:
Email: bjackson@mtroyal.ca
Phone: 403.440.5032
Office: EL4423X