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Library Research Guides

Academic Research and Writing: Finding Resources

Finding Resources

Research is a process of locating, evaluating, and synthesizing information. There are many types of resources, including books, articles, websites, videos, and more, that contain useful information for academic research. Resources can be located through multiple methods, including: 

  • OneSearch - a search engine that searches many resources accessible through the library, including books, articles, videos, etc.; however, it is not the best at conducting an advanced search on a specialized topic and does not search all of the databases to which the library subscribes.
  • Databases - collections of resources with their own search engine; some cover many subjects while others are more specialized. Most of the library's databases are collections of articles; however, we also have reference, art, music, and video databases. 
  • Web - contains many resources that may or may not be useful for your assignment. If your assignment allows for or requires web resources, it is extremely important to be critical of what you find since anyone can publish anything online. See the Evaluating Sources tab for help determining whether to use a source found online. 

Because each of these sources has access to different resources and uses a different search algorithm, they will produce different results. Therefore, it is important to determine which method(s) you should use before you begin searching. 


Library Research Tutorials

Prefer an interactive learning experience? The Library has created two self-paced tutorials on academic research in Canvas. Each module takes an average of 30 minutes to complete. After finishing a module and getting a score of 75% or higher on the quiz, the option to fill out a certification of completion will appear in the module screen.

Tutorial: Creating an Effective Search Strategy

In order to find the best resources, it is important to search strategically. This tutorial from the University of Minnesota Libraries covers the basics of conducting an effective search. 

Comparing Library Databases and Web Information

OneSearch & Library Databases  
  Web Search Engines
Types of Information Retrieved
  • Journal articles
  • Magazine & newspaper articles
  • Books and eBooks
  • Videos, music, art
  • Reference materials
  • Everything published on the open and indexed web
  • Commercial (.com, .net), educational (.edu), government, (.gov), and organization (.org) sites
  • Increasing amount of scholarly resources (especially through Google Scholar)
 When to Use
  • For general academic research
  • To easily find credible information
  • To get a broad overview of a topic
  • To find information not available through the library
  • Scholars / Researches / Professionals
  • Anyone
  • Content is peer-reviewed for accuracy and credibility by subject experts, researchers, and publishers and reviewed and recommended by faculty and librarians
  • Must evaluate each source individually for accuracy and credibility
  • Free for (currently enrolled) ARC students
  • Many are free, but some can only be accessed by purchasing individually or with a subscription
  • Advanced searching with many methods and limiters
  • Citation tool
  • Poor searchability; however, there are some advanced search methods
  • No citation tool

Adapted from the  Illinois Institute of Technology, Paul V. Galvin Library.

Source Types

How do you know what kind of source to use? This video from BYU Library Online Learning discusses the different resources you will find in library databases and on the Web.

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

Most of your college writing and research assignments will require you to use academic (a.k.a. scholarly) sources instead of popular sources. Here are the main differences between the two. 

Academic Sources: Popular Sources:
  • Are written by an expert on the subject
  • Are written for scholars and researchers
  • Use language specific to the field
  • Include a list of references 
  • Contain verifiable facts
  • Are peer-reviewed
  • Are often written by a journalist or writer, not an expert
  • Are written for a general audience
  • Use everyday language
  • May not include references 
  • May rely more on opinions instead of facts

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

The following video from Carnegie Vincent Library describes the difference between scholarly and popular sources.