In this module, you will learn to:
Before you start looking for the related information to answer your research question, you need to identify the right information source. There are so many different types of resources around us - data, technical report, conference paper, journal article, books. Watch the video "The Amazing Journey of Information" to learn how information flows from one type to another.
Scholarly materials vs. Popular materials
Scholarly materials are published works written by experts and are for experts in a particular field. They are referred as academic and usually peer-reviewed works. Reference books, books, trade journal articles, scholarly journal articles, are common types of scholarly materials.
Popular materials are works written for general audience. Magazines, newspaper articles are common types of popular materials.
You are likely to use popular sources to help you build the understanding of a topic before using scholarly sources to further develop an academic argument for your research. Watch the video "Scholarly, trade, and popular articles" to learn the difference among the three in more details.
Library databases, OneSearch, or Google?
All these platforms offer you both scholarly and popular materials.
When to find what
The selection of the type of materials depends on the type of information you need. The table below lists some most commonly used scholarly sources and popular sources for serving different purposes in BRE context.
Selected Resources for BRE
|Type of Materials||Purpose||Recommended Resources|
|Reference Works (dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks)||To get some background information of a subject; look for “definition”, or a fact, like the entries in Wikipedia, but in scholarly format.|
|Books||To get the whole picture and more in-depth context of a subject.||Direct search in OneSearch|
|Scholar Journal Articles||To understand the latest research of a very specific topic.||
|Standards||To find the rules or requirements concerning definitions of terms, procedures, or quality of performance for materials, products, systems, etc.|
|Newspapers||To find information of current or historical events, local and international.|
|Magazines (Popular Journals)||To find up-to-date information and opinions about events and popular culture.||e.g. Time, The Economist|
|Statistics||To find numbers, data, statistics to answer "how many" or "how much" questions.|
Once you have identified the books, articles or websites, you will need to make sure your sources are reliable and relevant to your research topic.
You can use the CRAAP test to evaluate your sources - basically ask yourself questions on whether your source is current, relevant, authoritative, and accurate. Watch the video "Evaluate Sources" to learn how CRAAP test can be used.
CRAAP stands for:
Evaluating Sources from Western University [2:16]