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Biographies

Getting Started with Research

Not sure where to start your research? Below are four common types of sources used in research. Read about what they can contribute to your research and then explore the rest of the guide to learn how to find the sources. Remember the library staff is always here to help you! Contact our AskUs service or subject librarians if you have any questions.

Reference Sources, such as encyclopedias, handbooks and dictionaries, are a good place to start your research because they provide:

  • background on a topic 
  • historical research
  • potential keywords for your catalog and database searches

Books in both print and electronic format provide:

  • in-depth coverage of a topic, broad in scope and usually historical
  • information that is two to three years old by the publication date
  • indexes where you can check if the book contains your topic

Articles in both print and electronic format provide: 

  • the most current source of peer-reviewed information
  • focused research, narrow in scope
  • literature reviews

Websites must be evaluated for credibility, authority and accuracy before using and provide:

  • the most current information on a topic (but not necessarily peer-reviewed)
  • obscure, hard-to-find information

What is Peer Review?

Many instructors require you to use peer-reviewed sources for your papers and projects, but what does that mean?

  • Peer review is the process of having experts in a field review the quality of an article or book before it is published
  • Most articles in scholarly and academic journals are peer-reviewed
  • Books published by university or academic presses are peer-reviewed

Most databases allow you to limit your search to peer-reviewed articles. Here are two examples:

Contact a Librarian

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Erin O'Toole
she/her/hers
Contact:
Willis Library, Room 080
Website
Contact: LinkedIn Page

Ask Us!

Need help? Then use the library's Ask Us service. Get help from real people face-to-face, by phone, or by email.

Ask Us!

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