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Research: Where do I begin?: Research "How to"

This guide provides resources to the following research-related questions:Where do I begin? Where should I look for information? What types of sources are available?

Power Searching with Google

How do I know which kinds of sources to use?

The type of source you use often depends on the type of information you need. A factual-type question might be best answered by a reference book, such as an encyclopedia or almanac. In contrast, a large research project might require using online article databases to find scholarly journal articles. General collection books on a specific topic may aid in synthesizing material and add context to a subject. Web resources are useful for finding current news information, while print sources may be better for more stable or historical topics. When researching, select a variety of sources to ensure different viewpoints on a topic.

How do I know if a web source is reliable?

Web sources located through a library web site are usually dependable. Information gathered on the Internet, without affiliation with a library or other organization, may not be as controlled, comprehensive, or permanent. However this does not mean you should discount the valuable sources that may be found on the Web.

If you do search the Internet, keep a critical eye on the kinds of sites you are retrieving. See the tutorials Internet Detective and Research on the Internet for more points to help you evaluate the quality of information on the Web. Evaluation criteria is based on a series of checklists, however in general it is best to apply a holistic approach to thinking critically about each source you use.