Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Research Help

Where to Look for Information

Books

Books are one type of information source that can be useful for your assignments. They can provide:

  • in-depth coverage of a subject
  • background and historical information on a subject
  • overview of a large topic.

They’re also useful when researching a subject area that isn’t rapidly changing (e.g. psychology). Books are an excellent place to start your research because they can help you to better understand your topic which will, in turn, help you to build your search strategy.

Databases

A great place to find information for your assignments is in online databases. Databases provide access to journal and magazine articles from hundreds of publications, often through a subscription service. The library has access to many great databases that can help you with your research.

Databases are useful when looking for in-depth information on a narrow topic. This is especially true of journal articles. The most common types of information presented in articles are:

  • data collected from original research
  • brief overview of data from a selection of original research papers
  • summary of research on a specific topic with a perspective on the current state of the area of study and its future
  • report on interesting phenomena in specific cases
  • new experimental methods, tests, or procedures  

An article would be a good choice of source if you’re looking for information on the application of a theory to a specific situation, for example.

What Databases Should I Use?

Look for the recommended databases for your area of study in our list of databases! Simply click the link below and choose your subject of interest from the Subject List menu.

What's the difference between a journal article and a magazine article?

Journal
  • Authors are generally authorities in the field
  • Articles are peer reviewed by experts in the field
  • Sources of information are cited
  • May include graphs and charts but few photos, pictures, and ads
  • Example: New England Journal of Medicine
Magazine
  • Articles appeal to a general audience
  • Articles written by staff reporters
  • Sources of information not generally cited
  • Eye-catching pictures, colourful design elements and fonts, and many ads are evident
  • Examples: Time, MacLean's, National Geographic

Google Scholar

If you’re unable to find relevant sources in databases, another place to find information for your assignments is in Google Scholar. Google Scholar is very similar to subscription databases in that it provides access to articles, books, and other scholarly sources. It differs from Google by only searching for scholarly or academic sources of information, as opposed to also including commercial or popular content. 

Unlike subscription databases, Google Scholar results:

  • aren’t organized by content experts
  • articles often cost money to access (these can be requested through the Assiniboine Library)
  • can’t be limited by subject area 
  • can’t be limited by material type (e.g. peer-reviewed article).

Google Scholar is an option for finding information after you’ve tried other resources the library recommends for your program.

Google

Google is a good place to find general information on a subject. For example, if you were searching for information on the psychological theory of classical conditioning, websites from credible sources might provide an overview of the theory’s basic concepts. Whereas if you were to search the theory in a database, articles that discuss the application of the theory to specific situations or that discuss research on the validity of the theory would be found.

Using Google to get a general understanding of a topic before researching specific aspects of that topic often helps you to find search terms and develop search strategies for finding information in databases and other places. It can also be used to find government or not-for-profit reports.

Videos

Videos found through credible sources may also be used as sources of information. However, credibility and reliability are often more difficult to determine. If looking for videos on a particular subject, search for video content on reputable websites, as opposed to popular video sites like YouTube or Vimeo.

Keep in mind that anyone can create a video, so it’s crucial to watch videos critically. Use the evaluation criteria discussed in the Evaluating Information section of this guide as you watch.

Podcasts

Podcasts are a more recent type information source that cover a wide range of subject areas. Currently, there isn’t a way to search for podcasts like you would search for articles in a database, but there is a trick that can help you find relevant podcasts in Google.

If you know the name of a current expert in the field, you can search Google for podcasts by that expert or with that expert as a guest. For example, if you wanted to find a podcast with the adult education expert James Lang, you would search the following terms in Google:

In this example, a number of podcast episodes are returned in the list of search results.

Keep in mind that anyone can create a podcast, so it’s crucial to listen to podcasts critically. Use the evaluation criteria discussed in the Evaluating Information section of this guide as you listen.

References

Springer. (n.d.). Types of journal articles. https://www.springer.com/gp/authors-editors/authorandreviewertutorials/writing-a-journal-manuscript/types-of-journal-articles/10285504

UCMERCED Library. (2021, February 22). Writing 10 (Koehler): Google vs. Google Scholar vs. library databases. https://libguides.ucmerced.edu/wri10_koehler/google_scholar_library_databases

University of Victoria Libraries. (n.d.). Books, journals, newspapers,  magazines. https://www.uvic.ca/library/research/tips/bookvjour/index.php

Trouble Finding Information?

The Library is here to help! Stop by in person or request help online.