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What is your topic? You may want to do some pre-research by browsing in the library catalog or Google to see if there is enough information on your topic.

How many sources do you need? Ask your instructor about his/her expectations.

What types of sources do you need? Do you need scholarly, peer-reviewed sources? Interviews? News articles? Photos?

Understand the Information Cycle (how information is developed):

  • First Phase: An event occurs. Those who witness the event are the primary sources. Their testimony, whether via spoken interview, diary, or letters all constitute primary information resources.

  • Second Phase: Investigators, reporters or acquaintances of the witnesses hear and gather information and they assemble the information and re-tell it. These are secondary sources: social media, daily newspapers and television news, magazines and blog posts. The second phase can take hours or days.

  • Third Phase: Extensive and even scholarly research may be carried out. This may take years. Sources from this phase include scholarly journals and books.

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