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How do I find academic sources?

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What are academic sources?

Academic sources are articles or books that carry footnotes and bibliographies and whose intended audience is scholars and researchers. 

A subset of academic sources is scholarly sources -- generally these are articles that have been peer reviewed, that is, reviewed (checked, analyzed) by qualified experts with known credentials in the field the article belongs to. To learn how to find out whether a journal is peer reviewed, see How Do I Know If a Journal Is Peer Reviewed? or ask a librarian.
 
Students at the college and university level are expected to use academic and scholarly sources for their research. 

Where do I find academic sources?

  • To find books, go to the library's home page and search under the FIND BOOKS section.
  • To find articles, use one or more of the databases below or go to the Database list

Finding sources using keywords

Be a smart searcher by using keywords to find sources!

Step 1.  Make sure the keywords are strongly related to your topic

Examples of Topics and Multiple Keywords:
Topic Keywords for Search
How does music impact intelligence? music AND intelligence
How does chocolate affect dogs? chocolate AND dogs
How does watching television impact attention span? television AND attention span
How can hypertension be treated? hypertension AND treatment

Note 1: words like "effects," "relationship," and "impact," could belong to basically any topic, so they're not very useful in searches and should be avoided.

Note 2:  To get results that are more relevant and targeted, use the Boolean operator AND in between your keywords.

Step 2.  As you read, pick up more keywords that can be used in other searches

  • Read some of your results and fish for useful keywords. For example, when reading about music and intelligence, you may run into the term "IQ." Jot it down, then run a new search using these terms:  music AND IQ
  • Take note of any synonyms.  For example, when reading about dogs, you may notice that a writer refers to dogs as "canines," which is another word for dog.  Jot that down, then run a new search using these terms:  chocolate AND canines

Step 3. Use your keywords when searching all types of resources

Your keywords will work  in different resources,  such as the library's book catalog, the library's databases, and the Web.

For more information on searching, please see the Connect for Success tutorial in Canvas, especially Modules 1 and 3. 

ResearchMinute Video: Recognizing Scholarly and Popular Sources

Watch this video to learn how to recognize scholarly and popular sources.

Infographic: Identify Scholarly Sources in Three Steps

identify scholarly sources infographic

Click on the image to view full size.

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