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Learn the Library

This guide will introduce you how to use the library to do basic research.

Can't I just Google it?

Using Google or Wikipedia is a common first step. BUT, consider these points:

  1. Who wrote it? Do they know what they are talking about? When was it written?

  2. Does the writer show where they got their ideas? i.e. are they citing their sources?

  3. Anyone can edit a Wikipedia article. Are you sure what's written there is authoritative?

  4. Your professor or instructor will probably not recognize any Google result webpage or Wikipedia entry as academic. Unless you can trust the authority of the work. e.g. blog post by an well-known researcher in the discipline.

  5. Using these methods to learn more about the topic is considered pre-research and is totally acceptable. After this, move on to finding academic sources to use in your work.

What is authority?

Authority related to the author/creators credibility and expertise. 

  • Question to ask: Is the author an expert in the field? Do they appear to have degrees in this area? Are they working with/for a university?

Authority also includes the credibility and reliability of the research process used in the creation of the work and how it meets your research need.

  • Question to ask: Where did I find this information? Was it in a reliable resource? Does it have the all components of a good research?
  • Question to ask: How does this help me with my research need or question? 

In most academic disciplines you want to look for authority by checking:

  • Work that has been published in a scholarly resource (i.e. Peer Reviewed Journal)
  • Information about the authors' credentials and degrees and/or affiliation with an institution
  • Articles that are longer (at least 10 pages) and include components like: abstract, keywords, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and references
  • The resource uses specialized language

In some disciplines (e.g. Law, Education, Business) you may look for: 

  • Resources written by experts in the field
  • Experts may not always have academic credentials but are usually experienced practitioners in the field (e.g. teachers, lawyers, business leaders)
  • Information from scholarly (but not always peer-reviewed) sources such as trade publications
  • Work uses specialized language
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Peer Review Process