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Research skills tutorial

Step 3 - Select information sources

You have now defined your topic and identified keywords (see Step 1) and created a search using various search boosters (see Step 2).

Now you need to select appropriate information sources to find the information you need.

Information Sources

The library has books, journals, legislation, statistics and surveys. Many are available online (eBooks, electronic journal articles and Australian Standards).

Learn more about different types of information sources

The source you choose will depend on your information need. You may need:

  • statistics or raw data
  • definitions
  • information limited to a specific geographical region (e.g. Australia)
  • current or historical information
  • peer reviewed or scholarly sources
  • facts or satirical commentary

Learn more about things to consider when selecting sources

Primary, Secondary and Tertiary

Primary, secondary and tertiary information source Primary sources are first-hand accounts at the time of an event
e.g. news reports, podcasts, diaries, census and statistics.

Secondary sources are second-hand accounts of an event or topic
e.g. journal articles, textbooks, newspaper articles and books.

Tertiary sources combine primary and secondary sources
e.g. fact books, almanacs, dictionaries and encyclopaedias.

Learn more about primary, secondary and tertiary sources

Databases

A database is an online collection of electronic journal and newspaper articles, research papers and much more. Most databases offer Advanced Search functions, so you can use your search strategy.

You will find peer-reviewed and scholarly journal articles in databases.

Learn more about peer-reviewed and scholarly journals

eBooks

At USC, you have access to eBooks through several platforms. Each platform has slightly different navigation, download abilities, and loan periods. See the eBooks at USC Guide for more information.

Websites

Because it is easy for anyone to publish anything on a website, you need to find websites that contain reliable information.

Websites with these domains (the URL ending) generally have reliable information:

  • .org (a registered organisation)
  • .edu (an educational institution)
  • .gov (a government agency)
  • .gov.au (an Australian government agency)

Websites with .com or .net. are not unreliable, but they should be used with caution. In Google's Advanced Search, you can limit your searches by domain.

You still need to evaluate any information you find (see Step 5) no matter what source you use.

     

Back to Step 2 - Search Strategy See an example of Step 3 Go to Step 4 - Find Information

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