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ENGL 2367

Research guide for students of second-year writing

Finding and Evaluating Sources

You’ll likely spend a great deal of time searching for sources to include in your research project as finding effective sources (ones that are credible, authoritative, and relevant to your claims and arguments) is critical to composing a successful assignment. In short, finding credible, authoritative, and relevant sources requires more than a quick Google search and using the top “hits” that search yields. Learning how to find effective sources takes time and effort—but the work will benefit your project in the long run. Use the Tips and Tutorials and Resources on this page to learn more about how and where to find sources and how you can begin to evaluate them for your own research purposes.  

Finding and Evaluating Sources: Resources

Search the catalogs to find books, e-books, and titles of journals, newspapers, and magazines (but not articles within journals, newspapers, and magazines--use the databases to find articles). You can search the OSUL catalog by keyword, title, or author. If you're not sure where to begin, try searching by keyword (s); sample keyword searches appear in the box on the right side of this page to help you get the hang of it.

When you've found a relevant book, click on the Subjects links located at the bottom of the book record to find other books about the topic. Subject headings use the controlled vocabulary of the Library of Congress to help you locate specific materials. For example, the subjects associated with the book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010) are: 

Criminal justice, Administration of -- United States

African American prisoners

Race discrimination -- United States

The databases listed here provide broad access to scholarly articles (e.g., Academic Search Complete, Communication & Mass Media Complete), as well as access to articles from leading global print publications such as The New York Times (LexisNexis Academic). “Opposing Viewpoints in Context” is a particularly useful tool if you’ve been asked to describe the current state of a cultural conversation about a controversial issue such as animal rights or media violence.

The databases and web links listed below offer searchable access to thousands of images—be aware, however, that all images you find may not necessarily be available for reprint or use in your work without either appropriate attribution or permission from the copyright holder.  Please review “Copyright Help” on the USING AND INTEGRATING SOURCES page for information on using and crediting images in your work.