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Information Skills: Information Sources

Picture of books on a table Welcome to the Information Sources guide

Locating and using information from a variety of sources is an important part of learning at university.  Not only should you be aware of the differences between types of sources, you should have a good understanding about how to find information from the following:

  • Books
  • eBooks
  • Databases / Journals
  • Websites
  • Newspapers
  • Video
  • Theses

Specialist webpages are available for each subject taught at University of Suffolk. The subject guides will help you find and use resources specific to your area of study.

Collage of lights through a mirrowThey include information about:

  • Specialist resources
  • Useful databases and journals for your subject
  • Streamed video content
  • Links to image databases
  • News about library developments for your subject
  • Links to useful websites 
  • Unless you are already expert in your subject you should begin by gathering some background information. Although tempting to go straight to online journal article databases without considering material at the book/monograph level, you should bear in mind that books are particularly useful for offering a foundation or overview of information related to a subject area, including reviews and overarching theories.
     
  • Books provide in-depth coverage, detailed analysis and background information for both general and specialised topic areas. You should use books to develop your understanding of a topic and filter out keywords to use when searching for further information in journals or from websites.
     
  • Also, research is often published in book/monograph form, and these can provide an overall guide to current activity in a field than the highly specialised journal article. In addition, research monographs are usually a good source of bibliographic references.

University of Suffolk has access to numerous databases and thousands of journals, as well as full-text articles - most of which are in electronic format.  Journals are published on a regular basis: normally weekly, monthly or quarterly and are subject-based with information written by experts. 

Journal articles tend to fall in to 2 categories:

  • Academic/peer reviewed journals, e.g. Critical Inquiry. Articles submitted to these journals are vetted by an independent panel of subject specialists. These journals are published less frequently and articles contain abstracts and reference lists.
     
  • Professional journals, e.g. Nursing Standard. These are published very frequently (often weekly) and are geared more towards professional updating. They tend to contain shorter articles, often without abstract or reference lists.

Databases and journals for your specific course will be listed in your Subject Guides

You can easily access databases from our A-Z of eresources list and journals through our A-Z of e-journals list.

Although you will need to carefully evaluate the websites and internet resources you use in your academic practice, they are a valuable resource for information.  You can find links to useful government, professional and organisational websites within your Subject Guide

Google and Google Scholar:
Google is a great tool to use for searching, however, even though it can provide you with millions of hits, most of them will be irrelevant to your topic.  Also, Google indexes materials by popularity, not quality or relevance, so you are unlikely to find the best resources for your academic work this way. 

Using Google Scholar will ensure that the results of your search will be academic materials, though you may not be able to access full text- make sure you check Summon to see if we have access to the resource through University of Suffolk. 

Remember that not everything is listed on Google, so you may miss vital information if that is all you use. 

Newspapers are an important and often untapped resource available to use in your academic work. 

Newspapers are useful because they provide a variety of information such as:

  • In-depth coverage of particular countries and cities
  • Activities of regional and local governments
  • Obituaries and other biographical information (especially in archived newspapers)
  • Eyewitness accounts of events
  • Editorial analysis of news and events
  • Accounts of historical and current events

Browse our newspaper collection from the links below:

16mm Film ReelsVideo is another useful source of academic information.  Not only can video be used to learn how to "do" something, it can also be used to analyse information and apply it to your academic studies. 

Video is a real-time sequential medium that allows for repeated viewing in which social activities, speech / language, gaze, gesture and body language can be examined. 


In addition to a number of DVDs available for loan at the University of Suffolk library, we also provide a streaming video service through Box of Broadcasts 

Once you have clicked into the service you will need to:
 
  • click on log in
  • type the word "suffolk" in the drop down list, and select University of Suffolk
  • you will then be prompted to create your own account - using your standard University of Suffolk login username (E or S number and IT password).
Once you have your own account you will be able to:
 
  • set your own recordings from the programme guide. You can record up to 5 programmes each day
  • create and store playlists
  • create and store programme clips.
  • share clips within the University of Suffolk community

Many national and international academic institutions make their PhD theses available for researchers to access either digitally or through paper / fiche loans. References for PhD theses may be found through database searches. 

UK Theses

UK theses are often made available through the British Library's EThOS service. this should be checked before any requests are made through the interlibrary loans service.

International Theses

North American institutions often have their own online repositories which can be found and searched via their websites.

Additional Information

All images on this page are available CC-BY-2.0