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Sidney Martin Library

Research Support

Research Suggestions

Need help identifying a topic to research? Below are some critical suggestions!

Useful Research Resources

  • Browse the Discovery Guide of Cambridge Scientific Abstracts to find comprehensive information on current issues. Updated monthly, this resource provides an overview of the topic with key citations. This resource covers the Biomedical Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities and environment.(

Choosing the correct Source to use

Knowing which sources are likely to be the most valuable for finding information on a topic helps to make the research process less daunting.  An understanding of the different types of information sources and their value to research is therefore critical to the research process.


Books are generally useful for:
  • Providing a background and a broad overview of a topic.
  • Researching a topic that is historical and/or understanding the historical development of a topic. 
  • Finding several opinions on a topic in one place.
Books will not help you if your topic is very recent or when your topic is fairly narrow.  Apart from general texts, Reference Books are also a critical source of information especially when starting research on a topic.

Reference Books include:
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopedias (both general and subject)
  • Handbooks
  • Manuals
Go to Find Books »


Articles can either be published in journals, magazines or newspapers.

Articles in scholarly journals are written by experts in the field, are of a high quality and hence a critical resource for the academic researcher.
The articles in popular magazines and newspapers are written for a general audience. The articles published in these sources contain up to date information on issues of popular interest and are good resources for editorials and opinions.
Scholarly journals are useful when your topic is narrow and when you need to find information on a topic that is supported by research data.
Popular magazines are useful to keep up to date with what the latest developments on issues which are of general interest and/or the latest developments within a specific field.  Popular magazines can help to point you to where and what you need to be examining about a research topic. 
Newspapers are also good sources for information on current events and for editorials, and can be both a primary or secondary source.

Go to Find Articles »

Primary and Secondary Sources

A Primary Source is a work that:
  • Represents the original, first hand account of an event or a time-period.
  • Is an original creative writing or creative work of art.
  • Reports on scientific discovery, results of scientific experiments or critical trials.
Some examples of a Primary Source are:
  • Diaries, letters, journals, newspapers, government records
  • Songs, plays, photographs
  • Maps, paintings
A Secondary Source is a work that analyzes and interprets a primary source.
Some examples of a Secondary Source are:
Websites provide access to a wealth of information, but they are not always the best source for information to conduct academic research. 

As an information source, the Web is a useful tool for finding statistics, information on policy, quality primary sources and of course opinion.

As a researcher your responsibility is to evaluate each site for quality that you wish to use for research purposes.  If you begin your search for information with the web, start with a Subject Directory - a collection of sites organized by information professionals that have been critically evaluated prior to inclusion in the directory.
Examples of a Subject Directory are:

Having problems with your research assignment? Get help from a Librarian »