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Research and Communication: 3. Source Types

This guide is primarily for use by 8th grade research students but contains helpful information for all students.

Where Do We Find Research?

Once we are confident that we can correctly evaluate information, it's time to start our search for the information we need. Whether you are looking for news, scientific studies, opinion pieces, or even advertisements, you will encounter a range of different mediums of content. In this class, we will be tackling 3 main mediums: books, databases, and the open web (websites, blogs, and more). Let's learn some useful tips for how to navigate research within each of these categories.

Book Research

Where can you find books?

Other than the public libraries around your city, the first stop should always be our MBA catalog. You can find the catalog here. Within our MBA catalog, make sure to take advantage of every feature. You can search by title, author, type of resource, and much more.

Do we not have what you're looking for? Try using Google BooksAlthough the books you may find are only partially visible (see: copyright laws on the other page), it is a resource that can still provide a wealth of information.

What do you do once you find a book?

When conducting a big research project, it may be impossible for you to read every book in its entirety. Here are some tips on how to find some nuggets of information that may be useful.

  • The Table of Contents: see if there is a chapter title that obviously relates to your topic.
  • The Index: the index can help you identify specific words and topics within the text. Look for keywords that relate to your topic to find specific pages that may contain helpful information.
  • Online Reviews: book readers and professional critics typically point to specific passages to prove a point about the book. See if they mention something that leads you on the right path.
  • Searchable Results: using an ebook? See if you can search within the text for keywords.

Database Research

What is a database?

Databases are organized collections of related information or data. Most databases cover a specific topic such as history, biology, or music. Most online library databases consist of written works published in journals, magazines, or newspapers but others consist of data, images or specialized information such as government documents.

You can access any of the databases that MBA has access to by being signed into your MBA email account and clicking on any of the links on this helpful A-Z list here!

Which database should you use?

That depends on your topic! If you look at the A-Z list above, there are notes next to most database links marked with an 'i' symbol that provides a short description of the content contained within that database. 

Need something specific?

Databases are built for researchers and thus contain a myriad of tools to refine your search results. Did you teacher ask for a primary source? Maybe they asked for a newspaper clipping? Databases contain an "Advanced Search" function (as shown below) that allows you to filter for specific types of information. 

Web Research

The worldwide web is indeed wide!

Using your source evaluation tools is more important than ever when you are researching using broad searches on engines like Google, Bing, or Safari. No single search site can keep up with all of the content on the internet, so you will encounter different results across different searches. 

How can we narrow the millions of search results?

Most search engines have advanced search features, allowing you to refine your results. Here are some examples of effective search limiters:

  • Published date or web page update
  • Search terms appearing only in the web page title, URL, page links
  • Eliminate from results those page that include unwanted search terms (NOT or -) (e.g. Food -McDonalds)
  • File type (doc, docx, ppt, pptx, pdf, xls, xlsx, jpg)
  • Domain of site (government - gov, mil; education - edu; organizations - org)
  • Use quotes ("xyz") to search for exact phrases (e.g. "Rocket launch")
  • Use wildcard/truncation (*) to find variations of a root word (e.g. medic*)