What key sources should I use?
In the academic environment, the following sources are often used:
- Academic books
- Scholarly journals
- Published reports
They can supplement the list of references in your course study guide.
Journals publish articles that provide scholarly information. Many journal articles are peer reviewed which means they are reviewed by experts in the author's field of research. Journals are published on a regular basis – weekly, monthly, bimonthly or quarterly and are issued on an ongoing basis– and are often called serials or periodicals.
Journal articles can be an excellent source for current, scholarly information. As well as containing scholarly information, journal articles can include reports and/or reviews of current research and topic-specific information. Newspapers are regarded as a serial or journal as they are published regularly over an indefinite period of time.
Many journals are subscription-based. The University Library subscribes to a large number of journals in print and electronic formats. Some journals are open access, providing free access to their content and are searchable on the web. Sometimes access to the most recent open access journal articles is delayed for a specific time period.
Use Search to find print and online journals. Use scholarly journals when you need original research on a topic, articles and essays written by scholars or subject experts, factual documented information to reinforce a position, or references lists that point you to other relevant research.
Dictionaries and encyclopedias
Reference books are useful to clarify a definition, provide a brief introduction to a topic or concept, or clarify a procedure. The Library has a wide range of dictionaries and encyclopedias, including subscriptions to online dictionaries and encyclopedias. Some are general in coverage like the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) which can be found in the Reference Collection at the Call number R423/O98. Some are quite subject specific in coverage for example The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. Use subject dictionaries to find definitions of key terms.
General encyclopedias cover broad disciplines, while subject encyclopedias explain concepts in greater depth. They often contain references to additional sources at the end of each entry. The Encyclopedia of Political Communication is an example of an online subject specific encyclopedia.
Use Search to find Dictionaries and enclyclopedias.
Monographs are books or individually published works. They include non-fiction books, textbooks, conference proceedings, theses, government reports. These will often be a major information source for an assignment. Use Search to locate monographs.
Scholarly books contain authoritative information and this can include comprehensive accounts of research or scholarship, historical data, overviews, experts' views on themes/topics. Use a book when you require background information and related research on a topic, when you want to add depth to a research topic or put your topic in context with other important issues. At UNE scholarly books can be in print or electronic formats.
Because it can take years, in some instances, to write and publish books, they are not always the best sources for current topics.
Specialist internet sites
Specialist websites are written by subject experts, often in educational or research institutions. They may include overviews or background information for some topics.
The internet also contains millions of sites that are not suited to university studies.