Why is it important to be careful about where you get your information from? For both your assignments and your personal life, it is crucial to make sure you are getting correct, accurate, information. Doing so means your assignments will be of a high standard, and you will not be misled when you make important decisions or form opinions.
All the information that you use in your essays and assignments should be analysed closely to make sure it is scholarly, and appropriate for your uses. Books and academic journals that are in the IADT Library have been checked by librarians to make sure they are of a good standard, and so have been included in our collections.
Not all information online has gone through this check, and so it is up to you to learn how to distinguish the good information from the bad. In this guide, you will find information on the different types of sources, what to look out for, what to consider, and what you should use in your assignments.
The first obvious step is to do a Google search. Google is a great way to get a broad overview and a general idea of a topic.
However, the results you will find on from a Google Search are, for the most part, not considered scholarly.
See the box below for tips on where to find information and what to look for in each one. Words in bold are defined in the box to the right.
Often the most reliable place to get information for your assignments, as the majority of journals are peer-reviewed.
The above list can be used to check if what you are reading is an academic journal, or is an opinion article in a magazine or on a website.
Books are another reliable source for information for your assignments. Depending on the subject, books can be less useful than academic journals, as they are published less frequently and so may not be as up to date.
Newspaper sources are generally reliable, depending on the reputation of the publishers. Tabloid newspapers are not usually considered a reliable source of information, as they have a reputation for printing exaggerations and untruths. Broadsheet newspapers like The Irish Times, The New York Times, The Guardian, etc. would be more acceptable to draw information from.
It is important to remember that newspapers often operate under a bias, and may report the news as such. For example, in the UK, The Guardian is considered a more left-wing newspaper, while The Times would be considered more conservative/right-wing. These political leanings can affect how a story is reported.
Websites are the first thing we all go to when trying to find out information. However, remember that website sources have to be considered carefully, as the information can be published without going through any checks. Please see the infographic below for more detailed information.
Popular magazines can be a good source for information, provided, again, the publication has a strong reputation. Magazines can be a rich source of information on the arts especially, including personal profiles on creators, artists, filmmakers, actors, writers, etc.
Websites are another widely used place to find information, but there is much more to consider when it comes to using them as sources. Most information that is published on the Web is not edited, filtered, and evaluated like books, journals, magazines, or newspapers. There are no guidelines for publishing online - i.e. anyone can have a website and publish anything they want on it. Therefore, it is important to evaluate websites before including them in an assignment.
A secondary source is removed from primary sources, and usually provides commentary, analysis, or interpretation of a topic. A classic example of this is a textbook, which is not written by someone who was there at an event – instead it talks about it in a removed way.
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