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Exploring your topic
Using subject specific encyclopedias, you can often find comprehensive summaries of your topic. This often gives you a good foundation from which to do further research, which can be hard to find elsewhere.
About Wikipedia - be cautious of its reliability. Confirm the information against other sources, as anyone can change Wikipedia articles at any time (example). However, the references section of Wikipedia articles can be useful; also the links section.
Articles are generally more specific than books and tend to focus on a certain aspect of a topic. Citations for articles (i.e. article title, author, journal name, etc.) can be found in article indexes and databases, often along with the full-text of the article.
Here's a list of databases you could try for your assignments:
Academic Search Premier
Includes articles from a range of academic journals and popular magazines. Covers a broad range of topics.
Google Scholar enables you to search for scholarly literature, from broad areas of research though mostly in the science and technology fields. Searching is not as focused as in the other article databases.
Academic content (articles, book chapters, etc.) related to the study of society.
Web of Science
Articles from scholarly journals in scientific fields.
Humanities and Social Sciences Abstracts
Includes articles from a wide range of academic journals in the social sciences and humanities. Good for almost any topic.
Articles from scholarly journals and popular magazines on a wide range of science topics.
Articles from Canadian sources, including some scholarly journals, business magazines, and popular news magazines and newspapers. Good for learning about the 'Canadian' angle to any question.
Scholarly articles from psychology journals. Good for any topic with a psychology angle.
Communication & Mass Media Complete
Scholarly journal articles from the fields of communications, mass media, linguistics and film.
Design and Applied Arts Index (DAAI)
DAAI covers both new designers and the development of design and the applied arts since the mid-19th century. Includes articles, topical news items, conference and seminar reports, and book, video and exhibition reviews.
Education and education-related journal articles.
ACM Digital Library
Academic articles from the Association for Computing Machinery. Mostly "hard-core" computer science, but some material on computing & society.
Scholarly and magazine articles on a wide range of health topics.
Business Source Complete
Articles from over 3700 business journals in all business areas, at least 1000 of which are scholarly/peer-reviewed.
If you're unsure about where to search or how to find full-text copies of the articles you want, ask a librarian! We help students with this all the time.
Evaluating your sources
The quality of your assignment will depend on the quality of your sources. That's one good reason to think critically about the sources you use.
It's important to understand the difference between scholarly journals and popular ones. You can find a good comparison of scholarly journals, magazines, and trade publications on the Library's guide What is a scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journal?
To find out more information on the peer review process and what makes a journal and a journal article peer-reviewed, take a look at the Library guide What is a peer-reviewed journal?
You can find a good list of questions to help you evaluate the reliability of websites on our guide to Finding and evaluating resources on the web.
To evaluate current news articles (and test your ability to sniff out disinformation!), check out our guide on How to spot fake news.
Help with writing your paper
The Student Learning Commons has peer tutors available to help with writing your paper. You can either drop-in or make an appointment. There are locations at all three campuses; the Surrey location is in the Library, in room 3695.
Citing your sources
It's important to cite your sources, so that:
Your reader can locate the sources you used for your paper
You give credit to the people whose research and ideas you used in your paper
Using the APA style:
The library's online guide to APA style
The official APA Handbook in the library
The library's guide on citing images in APA style
Remember you also need to cite videos, images, and other media that you use.
Writing an annotated bibliography:
How to Write an Annotated Bibliography (SFU Library)
Writing an annotated bibliography (University of Toronto, Writing Centre)