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My plan for this session

During this session we will talk about:

  • Anything you want to know about the library related to your assignments.
  • Some ways to approach annotated bibliographies.
  • Identifying credible sources, and using LibrarySearch to find those sources.
  • The help available to you later.

Goal: By the end of this library session you should have identified (at least) one research item on your topic to submit to your instructor. You will also know where and how to search for more sources for your assignment, and where to get research help later.

Identifying and evaluating sources


Scholarly (peer-reviewed, academic)

Non-scholarly (popular)


Subject matter expert; often with advanced education (e.g., PhD) or working at a university

Journalists, professional, or creative writers; may be crowd generated content


Reviewed by an editorial board or other subject matter experts (peers)

Reviewed by an editor (sometimes)

 Audience &   language

Researchers, scholars, students; language is academic or technical

General public; uses everyday, easy to understand language


Reports original research; builds on previous knowledge

News, and practical information, creative works

 Cites sources?

Always cites other research

Occasionally, but not required


How do you know if you have a credible, reliable, relevant source? Consider the following:

  1. Is the author qualified to write about the topic?
  2. Does the resource incorporate quality reports or research?
  3. Is the language used objective, or emotional?
  4. Is the information opinion-based, or can you identify some bias?
  5. Does the resource actually address your research topic or problem?
  6. Who is the intended audience?

Your resource doesn't necessarily have to meet all of these criteria.

The following video has more information about ways to understand and evaluate the credibility of sources.

There are all kinds of information resources available. When you find a source, two key questions you should always ask yourself:

  1. Is it a quality, credible source?
  2. Does it meet your information needs?

Many of your instructors will ask you to use academic sources in your assignments. This usually means peer-reviewed journal articles, scholarly books/chapters, or other credible resources that rely on dedicated research.

Non-scholarly sources are great for when you need background or supplementary information to give some context, such when discussing current events, or understanding how your topic is discussed in the real world, outside of academia/research settings.

Searching for sources

The MRU LibrarySearch tool - the main search box on the library homepage - is like Google for library resources. Use it to find information in all formats (articles, books, magazines, videos, etc.) through a single search.

And just like Google, your keywords tell LibrarySearch what your are looking for.  Using specific keywords that describe your exact topic in detail, and in context, will help the search understand what you need.

Search for articles, books/chapters, multimedia...


Other LibrarySearch Tips:​

  • Sign in to save items you "pin" to your favourites list (look for the push pin icon). This also allows you to save searches. 
  • Use the filters on the right to limit your results (e.g. relevant subjects, preferred resource type, etc.).
  • Filtering results for only peer-reviewed sources only applies to scholarly journal articles.
  • Use the advanced search to search for keywords in specific fields; useful for searching for a specific title or author.

Phrase searching: Use "quotation marks" around key ideas made up of multiple words.

  • "substance abuse"
  • "video game addiction"

Truncation: Use an asterisk * to find different endings to your keywords

  • alcohol* = alcohol, alcoholics, alcoholism
  • canad* = Canada, Canadian, Canadians

Synonyms: Using different keywords to describe the same idea will retrieve results that use any of those terms. Note that synonyms are most effective in brackets with the word OR between them.

  • (addiction OR dependency)
  • (cocaine OR coke OR blow OR snow OR "nose candy")

These advanced Google search options canl help you find useful, credible information on the open web.

Use site: to look for resources from trustworthy web domains.

  • = Canadian gov't
  • = Alberta gov't
  • site:gov = US gov't
  • site:edu = US universities
  • = UK universities
  • = Australian universities

Other resources

Your librarian

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Richard Hayman
Phone: 403.440.8518
Office: EL4441K

Citation Resources from Student Learning Services

  • 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.