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Online Writing Lab

Finding Sources

In today’s technologically based society, a writer has a variety of tools and resources available to use when researching and crafting an essay. Books, periodicals, newspaper articles, and various internet sites can be great sources of information and can help make an essay more effective and credible. Libraries are helpful places to find a variety of information, and both the Aims Kiefer Library and the local High Plains Library District can provide any Aims student with a large selection of different materials. 

To find sources for any issue, a writer needs to ask himself what type of source is most helpful. If you are writing about a current event and want to find some statistics or quotes, you may want to begin by using a newspaper database that will search multiple newspapers. If looking for a statistics, many government websites can provide information based on non-biased studies. If looking for criticism of literature or interpretations of literature or other studies, books and academic-based periodicals can be helpful. 

Searching the internet is a good place to start gathering information, but all researchers need to be aware of the potential drawbacks of this type of research. While a voluminous amount of information is available on the internet, simply using a search engine will probably result in finding too much information, which can be impossible to sort through. Not only that, but a standard search engine will search the entire internet, which will often result in finding sources that lack credibility. To help narrow down potential research and find more credible sources, researchers should use a database. Numerous databases are available, and these can be used to narrow an internet search and only focus on specific sources.

Fortunately for students, Aims provides access to a variety of online databases to find numerous articles from trusted sources. Visit Kiefer Library, located in the Learning Commons, and talk to a librarian for more information on finding, evaluating, and citing sources properly. Aims databases can also be accessed off-campus by students and staff through the Kiefer Library website. Use the database and article search tab on the left side of the screen to access a variety of databases. 

Another good online source to use is Google Scholar. Developed by the same makers of the Google search engine, Google Scholar only searches internet sites considered to be credible rather than searching the entire internet. This site also provides options for trying to limit the amount of materials that are found. You can visit the site here: