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Information Literacy Guide

Learn all about different sources of information

Thinglink - Print and Digital Library resources

Sources of Information

three sauce bottles labelled as different types of academic resources

It is important that you use recognised academic sources when doing research - preferably using a range different types of sources like books, journals, websites, and government publications. This variety helps you understand the topic better, get different viewpoints, and ensure credibility. Choose sources based on your research question and what you need for a thorough and reliable investigation.

  • Academic Books:

    • These are comprehensive publications on specific topics.
    • Used for in-depth exploration of subjects, historical context, and theoretical frameworks.
  • Academic Journals:

    • Periodical publications containing scholarly articles.
    • Used for the latest research findings, peer-reviewed studies, and academic discussions.
  • Journal Articles:

    • Individual articles within academic journals.
    • Used for specific research topics, case studies, and short, focused research findings.
  • Databases:

    • Online platforms hosting a vast collection of academic resources.
    • Used for efficient searching, accessing scholarly articles, books, and reference materials.
  • Theses and Dissertations:

    • Research works submitted by graduate students.
    • Used for in-depth research on a specialized topic and as a source of original research.
  • Government Publications:

    • Reports, policies, and data released by government agencies.
    • Used for statistical data, policy analysis, and authoritative information.
  • Conference Proceedings:

    • Collections of papers presented at academic conferences.
    • Used for the latest research in specific fields, emerging trends, and expert discussions.
  • Websites:

    • Online sources from universities, institutions, or experts.
    • Used cautiously for supplementary information, news, and expert opinions, but always consider credibility.
  • Primary Sources:

    • Original documents or artefacts from the time or event being studied.
    • Used for historical and context-based research, providing first-hand accounts.
  • Secondary Sources:

    • Interpretations, analysis, or summaries of primary sources.
    • Used for contextualizing and understanding primary source material.

Each of these sources has its place in university research, and researchers often use a combination of them to gather a well-rounded understanding of their chosen subject. The choice of source depends on the specific research question, the depth of analysis required, and the academic standards of the discipline.


Information Literacy

Information Literacy

"Information literacy is the ability to think critically and make balanced judgements about any information we find and use.

It empowers us as citizens to reach and express informed views and to engage fully with society."

CILIP (2008)

Resources - The who, what, where, when and why

  • Who are you including in your assignment?
  • What are they saying?
  • Where did you find that information?
  • When was it written?
  • Why is what they have said worth sharing?

You are expected to use a variety of resources when doing assignments. This is to show evidence that you have read widely and are fully informed about the topic.  Before you start writing you need to select the appropriate resources to provide you with the information you need to help begin your assignment. 

Whilst there is a lot of information on the Web, it can be difficult to find good quality sources of information for academic studies. The good news is that Library purchases access to a wide range of academic materials on your behalf

The Library supplies students and staff with access to lots of resources and these can be in different formats such a print (Books or Journals) or digitally (Ebooks, Websites, Databases and so on).


Assessing Information

The CRAAP test is a useful tool for assessing the quality and reliability of information sources, particularly in academic and research contexts. The acronym "CRAAP" stands for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. By evaluating information using these five criteria, individuals can make informed decisions about the credibility and suitability of sources. Here's a breakdown of each component of the CRAAP test:

  1. Currency:

    • Currency refers to the timeliness of the information. Is the source up to date and relevant for your research or inquiry? Depending on the topic, some sources may need to be very recent, while others can be older. Assess whether the publication date or the date of the last update is appropriate for your needs.
  2. Relevance:

    • Relevance assesses how well the information source aligns with your research or information needs. Does the source directly address your topic or question? Evaluate the content to ensure it provides meaningful and on-topic information.
  3. Authority:

    • Authority evaluates the credibility and expertise of the author or the source. Ask questions such as: Who is the author? What are their qualifications and affiliations? Is the source published by a reputable institution or organization? Reliable sources should have authoritative authors or institutions backing them.
  4. Accuracy:

    • Accuracy assesses the reliability and correctness of the information. Are there factual errors or inconsistencies in the content? Cross-reference the information with other reputable sources to check for accuracy. Look for citations and references within the source to see if the information is well-supported.
  5. Purpose:

    • Purpose evaluates the intentions of the source and whether there may be biases present. Consider why the information was created and who the intended audience is. Is the source meant to inform, persuade, entertain, or sell a product? Sources with clear, transparent intentions are often more trustworthy.

When using the CRAAP test, it's important to keep in mind that not all criteria are equally important for every research question or context. The weight given to each criterion may vary depending on your specific needs. For instance, in academic research, accuracy and authority are often critical, while in a current events analysis, currency and relevance may be more significant.

The CRAAP test is a valuable tool for promoting critical thinking and helping individuals make informed decisions about the information they encounter, particularly in an age when information is readily available from a wide range of sources, both credible and less reliable. By applying this assessment method, individuals can better navigate the information landscape and make more informed choices when selecting sources for research or decision-making.

poster showing the details of the CRAAP test

Critical and Academic Writing