Your Search Strategy LRC@TCC
The type of information you need depends on
the course in which you are enrolled, your research topic,
and the nature of your
you have any doubt about the type of information you need,
be sure to talk to your instructor and/or a reference librarian.
Is the information required by your assignment
scholarly, popular, or both?
Do you require current
information, historical information, or both?
your topic have a geographical focus, e.g. are
you interested only in your subject as it relates to
Do you need an overview of your subject, very
specific details about a certain aspect of your
subject, both an
overview and specific details, or something in
between the two?
Do you need primary sources - such
as statistics, research reports, letters, diaries, minutes
-, secondary sources - usually books and periodical
articles - or both?
of Information Required
Before you start your research, you should
be aware of the amount of information you require. If you
is expected of you,
ask your instructor.
Remember that time is an important factor when you are doing
research, especially when you are writing a paper that requires
you to read a large number of sources.
If your library does not have all the materials
you need for your assignment, you may be able
to obtain these materials from another library using Interlibrary/Intercampus
Loan. If you require materials
from outside your library you should allow approximately
weeks for delivery.
Sources of Information
Information comes in many formats. Each source
is best suited to provide particular types of information. For
example, books, magazines, encyclopedias, videos, CD-ROM
the Internet are all
potential sources of information. However, every type of
source is not necessarily appropriate for the information
Textbooks- Scholarly, historical, general overviews
Encyclopedias-Scholarly, historical, general
Books-Scholarly, popular, historical, general,
Journals-Scholarly, current, historical,specific.
Videos-Scholarly, popular, historical,
Magazines-Popular, current, general overview.
Newspapers-Popular, current, general, specific.
Government Document-all the above.
Internet-all the above, be careful!
of Information Gathering
If your knowledge of the subject is
limited, it is often a good idea to proceed from the general
to the specific, as in the following example:
Consult text books, general and specialized
encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, and other
reference books to get
an overview and background information on your topic.
the library catalog, references in your text book,
and subject bibliographies to locate book titles
Use index and abstract databases
to locate magazine, journal, and newspaper articles
on your topic.
A primary source is information (in its broadest
sense) in its original form, uninterpreted by other writers.
of a primary source varies widely from one discipline to
another. The following list contains some common examples:
an eyewitness account of or a participant
in an event, such as letters, diaries, minutes of meetings,
log books, or newspaper articles written at the time
of the event.
data obtained through original research, such
of scientific experiments, government records, or
market research surveys.
creative works, such as fiction,
poetry, music, or art.
artifacts, such as historical
photographs, pottery, furniture, or buildings.
work that interprets a primary source is referred to as a
secondary source. Common
examples of secondary sources include literary critiques,
literature reviews, and most books and journal articles.
a source does not fit the definition of a primary source,
above, it is most likely a secondary source. For more
information use the library's subject guide on primary
Reprinted & adapted
with permission from
Electronic Information Literacy.