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The Research Process: From Assignment to Finished Papers: Finding Sources

This guide contains information presented at workshops held jointly by Moon Library and the Writing Resource Center.

Tips for Finding Relevant Sources

Including relevant sources in your writing is crucial to giving credit to your argument and providing background information. Here are some tips for locating such sources:

  • Start searching for sources with library resources
    • Use the OneSearch box on this page or at
    • Consider databases such as ScienceDirect or Environment Complete. See a full list here or click on the Databases tab in the search box to the right or on the library website.
  • Brainstorm terms based on your research question
    • Consider synonyms, scientific names, technical language vs. natural language
    • Look for subject terms as you search databases as these will give you other terms to search
  • Consider the type of source(s) you need and what you find
    • What type of sources can you use in your paper? Has you professor specified peer-reviewed journal articles or said "no websites?"
    • Are you looking at a journal article, a general website or blog, a news article, a book chapter, etc.
    • Familiarize yourself with what these types of sources look like in the online environment

Search for Library Materials

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Search for articles in academic journals and other resources.

Databases and Resources

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z | All Databases
Search course reserves by class prefix, class name, instructor, or course reserve title

Evaluating Sources

Evaluate the sources you find for their relevance and usefulness for your paper. It is often useful to determine WHO is behind the information and WHY they are presenting the information this way. Be sure to do some lateral reading on sources you are considering and ask questions like the ones below. You can also use the questions in the CRAAP test below to help you find credible sources (this is particularly useful for online sources aside from peer-reviewed journal articles and books).

Ask Questions:

  • What is another perspective?
  • What would be a counter-argument?
  • Who have you also heard discuss this?
  • Where are there similar concepts/situations?
  • How does this benefit/harm us/others?
  • How do we know the truth about this?
  • Where can we get more information?

(Adapted from Watanabe-Crockett, L. (2016). The Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet [Infographic]. Retrieved from



Currency - When was it published? Has the material/information changed?

Relevance - Who is the intended audience? Is the information at an appropriate level? Have you looked at a variety of sources?

Accuracy - Can the information be verified other places? Has the information been reviewed or refereed? Are sources cited?

Authority - Who are the authors and what are their credentials?

Purpose - Is the purpose to inform, entertain, sell, persuade? How do you know?