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How do I know what kind of information I need?
There are LOTS of different types of information, and nearly just as many places to look for it. When doing social work research, you'll likely need to use multiple sources of information and multiple types of search engines. So how do you know where to go? Ask yourself: what kind of information do I need?
Use this short, fun, interactive tutorial to help you figure out where to look for different kinds of sources: USC Libraries Lesson - Knowing Where To Look
For many assignments, you'll need to locate scholarly or peer-reviewed sources.
Scholarly or peer-reviewed sources (typically):
- disseminate original research or provide reviews of original research
- have undergone a rigorous peer-review process
- provide citations or references
Sometimes, you'll need to find open-web sources, like government or agency documents, statistics, or other demographic information.
When searching the open-web, make sure your sources are reputable by asking yourself these questions:
- Who wrote this content? Can the author be trusted?
- What is the purpose of this content? Is it to inform, or for commercial purposes?
- Is this information accurate? Can I corroborate this information with other sources?
Lastly, sometimes you'll need background information, like a summary of a theory, an overview of a topic, or a newspaper article.
You might find background information in:
- an encyclopedia or other reference work
- a book or book chapter
- newspaper databases
Head, Education & Social Work Library Services