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Image credit: Estefany Sanchez, Lee College. Used with permission.
Determine whether your source is credible
All information sources are not created equally -- just because an article is published in a magazine or journal does not mean that it is a credible source.
Analyze ALL your sources -- articles, websites and books -- for potential author bias, accuracy and relevance to your research topic.
This online questionnaire provides a framework for examining your sources: Online CRAAP test
Find Background Information on Your Topic
These sources will help you find background information on your topic.
This can help you:
- Discover which aspects of your topic are most important to other researchers. Your instructor will likely expect you to address these areas.
- Find search terms.
- Learn basic facts about your topic that may help you narrow your search.
Britannica Online Academic Edition
Online version of the classic Encyclopedia Britannica. Also includes Merriam-Webster dictionary and thesaurus.
Provides online access to reference books on a variety of topics, such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri, quotations, and subject-specific reference books.
Allows you to electronically search for your topic in the indexes and tables of contents of Lee College print books before you go to the shelf to find them.
How do you know what kind of sources to look for?
Ask yourself these questions before you start your research:
- Do I know enough about my topic to choose meaningful search terms?
- Reference books such as encyclopedias are useful sources for learning basics about a topic before starting your research.
- Does it matter how old your sources are?
- Should you use sources dating from the beginning of time to the present?
- Do you only want the most current information?
- How specific is your topic?
- Are you giving a broad overview of the topic?
- Do you need in-depth research on the topic?
- Who counts as a credible writer on this topic?
- Does the writer need to be an expert in the field? What kind of credentials will prove that this person is an expert?
- Is it okay for the writer to be a non-expert who cites his/her sources well?