Skip Nav

Finding Sources

University of Louisville Writing Center

❶Specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries provide background in specific fields e.

Contact a Librarian

Why is this important?
Three Types of Resources
Don't want to cite by hand?

It should never be cited in an academic paper. Another reason why Wikipedia should not be cited in an academic research paper is that it aims to be like an encyclopedia—a source of reference information, not scholarly research or primary or secondary sources. One must delineate between general reference for general knowledge and scholarly sources for in-depth knowledge and research.

Don't want to cite by hand? Search and cite automatically with EasyBib! Follow Us Facebook Twitter Youtube. Easy-to-read guides and videos; not as technical as other medical search engines; managed by the National Institutes of Health,.

A database of articles about issues pertaining to the justice system, including court cases, crime prevention, drugs, etc. A powerful, general-purpose search engine that finds websites, academic papers, books, newspapers, and more. The site has a variety of features that help you narrow down your search. A search engine crafted specifically for students. Every website that shows up as search result has been hand-picked by research experts.

EasyBIb research makes the bibliographies on our site searchable, so you can look at sources about your topic that other students are using.

As you find books on your topic listed in the computer, you can then track those books down on the shelf. After a few minutes of searching on the computer, you will start to see that certain books have call numbers the number on the book's spine that tells its location in the library that are similar.

After you finish your work on the computer, ask a reference librarian, or follow the signs on the walls to locate the call numbers that correspond with your books. When you get to the section where your book is located, don't just look at that book. Sometimes you will find great resources that you were unaware of just by looking on the shelf.

Because libraries are generally organized by topic, you can often find some real "gems" this way. Also check the index in the front or the back of the book the one in the back is always more detailed, but not all books have one to be sure that the information you are looking for is in the book. A book can have a great title, but no information. On the other hand, a book that doesn't seem to go along with what you are doing can turn out to have a lot of usable information. Books are generally a great resource--they often contain a lot of information gathered into one place, and they can give you a more thorough investigation of your topic.

As you are reading a book, journal article, or newspaper article, you should keep the following questions in mind, which will help you understand how useful the book will be to you. Magazines including Time or Newsweek are called periodicals as they are published periodically weekly, monthly, etc. Most libraries only keep the most current issues of these magazines on the shelf.

The rest are bound together in collections, usually by year. These are usually kept in a separate room in the basement, to my experience! Usually, the location is a place called "the stacks," which is where you go to look for periodicals that are older than the current issue.

Remember that you can't take these out of the library. If you find articles that you want to take home, you need to photocopy them. Newspaper articles are sometimes in the bound periodicals, but are more often found on microfiche or microfilm. Make sure to distinguish between general interest magazines and professional journals; this is an important distinction in college-level research. Microfiche or microfilm is a device which can be extremely frustrating.

Don't hesitate to ask for help from your nearby reference person. Microfiche or microfilm comes in two forms--small cards of information fiche , or long film-type strips of information film.

Once you insert these into the microfiche or microfilm machine and there are separate machines for each , you will be able to see the text of the article that you are looking for.

Often, you will have to scan through quite a bit of film to find what you are looking for. Microfiche and microfilm are kept in boxes, and sometimes you have to request the date that you are looking for.

With persistence, you can find some wonderful resources on microfiche and microfilm. Many libraries today, especially if they are larger libraries, have information available on CDROM or through what are called specialized databases.

Be sure to tell a reference librarian what you are working on, and ask her advice on whether or not there is information available on CDROM or through a specialized database. Government documents are currently available on CDROM and often offer updated information census data, for example.

The reference librarian can tell you which CDs might be the most helpful and can help you sign them out and use them.

There are many specialized databases. Some examples are ERIC, the educational database, and Silver Platter, which offers texts of recent articles in particular subjects yep, the whole article is available right through the computer, which is often less time-consuming than looking through the stacks for it The American Psychological Association has the titles of articles on specific subjects psychology, sociology, etc.

Sociofile is another example. Ask your reference librarian to see exactly what is available. One good thing about specialized databases is that you already know the source and orientation of the article. You also know that the source is a valid and reputable one.

You will need the reference librarian's help getting into specialized databases--most libraries require that the databases have passwords.

Bring your own paper if you plan on doing this type of research! Many libraries allow you to print from the databases, but you must supply your own paper. Internet research is another popular option these days. You can research from home if you have internet search capabilities, or you usually can research from the library. Most libraries have internet connections on at least a few computers, although sometimes you need to sign up for them in advance. Even if there doesn't seem to be much of a crowd around, be sure to sign up on the sheet so that you don't have someone come along and try to take your spot.

Internet research can be very rewarding, but it also has its drawbacks. Many libraries have set their computers on a particular search engine, or a service that will conduct the research for you. Internet research can be time consuming. You will need to search much the way you would on the library database computers--simply type in key words or authors or titles, and see what the computer comes up with. Then you will have to read through the list of choices that you are given and see if any of them match what you think you are looking for.

There are a lot of resources on the internet that are not going to be valuable to you. Part of your internet research will include evaluating the resources that you find.

Personal web pages are NOT a good source to go by--they often have incorrect information on them and can be very misleading. Be sure that your internet information is from a recognized source such as the government, an agency that you are sure is a credible source the Greenpeace web page, for example, or the web page for the National Institute of Health , or a credible news source CBS, NBC, and ABC all have web pages. A rule of thumb when doing internet research: One good source to help you determine the credibility of online information is available from UCLA: Check out the Content and Evaluation and Sources and Data sections.

Taking notes is an important part of doing research. Be sure when you take notes that you write down the source that they are from! One way of keeping track is to make yourself a "master list"--a number list of all of the sources that you have.

Then, as you are writing down notes, you can just write down the number of that source. A good place to write notes down is on note cards.

This way you can take the note cards and organize them later according to the way you want to organize your paper. While taking notes, also be sure to write down the page number of the information. You will need this later on when you are writing your paper. Any time that you use information that is not what is considered "common knowledge," you must acknowledge your source. For example, when you paraphrase or quote, you need to indicate to your reader that you got the information from somewhere else.

This scholarly practice allows your reader to follow up that source to get more information. You must create what is called a citation in order to acknowledge someone else's ideas.

You use parentheses in your text, and inside the parentheses you put the author's name and the page number there are several different ways of doing this. You should look at your course guide carefully to determine which format you should be using. Check out more specific information on how to document sources. Using sources to support your ideas is one characteristic of the research paper that sets it apart from personal and creative writing. Sources come in many forms, such as magazine and journal articles, books, newspapers, videos, films, computer discussion groups, surveys, or interviews.

The trick is to find and then match appropriate, valid sources to your own ideas. But where do you go to obtain these sources? For college research papers, you will need to use sources available in academic libraries college or university libraries as opposed to public libraries.

Here you will find journals and other texts that go into more depth in a discipline and are therefore more appropriate for college research than those sources written for the general public. A note about "peer review. Sometimes the term "refereed" is used instead of peer review. The McQuade Library has many online periodical databases which contain scholarly journal articles. If you have found an article and are not sure if it is scholarly or not you can find out by consulting the following books located in the Reference Room:.

LaGuardia, Cheryl, Magazines for Libraries, 12 th ed. The information contained in this brochure was adapted from Working with Faculty to Design Undergraduate Information Literacy Programs: Search this Guide Search. Secondary Sources Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals Magazine or Journal? JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.


Main Topics

Privacy Policy

The dreaded research paper can leave many wondering where to go for information. With the Internet being so accessible, it might be tempting to type words into Google and use whatever comes up first. You may get lucky and get great sources, or you may get stuck with less credible sites that leave your professor wondering where you got such information.

Privacy FAQs

Collecting sources for a research paper can sometimes be a daunting task. When beginning your research, it’s often a good idea to begin with common search engines, like Google, and general descriptions like you can find on Wikipedia. Often though these are not the sources .

About Our Ads

– Tell one of these people your research topic and ask them to point you towards useful sources. Chances are that they know more about what’s available about your particular topic than you do. Depending on the size of your school, you may have a subject area librarian for the particular type of research you are doing. What makes a research source good or bad? When conducting research, you should avoid any source that contains opinion or fiction.

Cookie Info

Secondary sources are those that describe or analyze primary sources, including: reference materials – dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks, and books and articles that interpret, review, or sythesize original research/fieldwork. Learn about all the different source types and when they are appropriate and helpful to you in the research process: encyclopedias, Wikipedia, books, scholarly articles, popular articles and magazines, trade magazines, news, and websites!