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ELISE | Informing your studies: Selecting information


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Selecting information

When you are researching a new topic and you don't have a reading list, you will need to find information that will be appropriate for your assignments.

Some sources of information are regarded as more reliable than others because of the way they are produced or created.

The following guidelines will help you select information:

  • some sources of information have a higher level of accountability, e.g academic texts and peer-reviewed journals
  • take time to read widely to gain a deeper understanding of a topic
  • go through an evaluation process with any information you find, checking it for quality, relevance and usefulness
  • use this checklist for the selection of academic materials

Tip Learn more about Evaluating resources under the Define tab.

Citation chaining

Citation chaining involves using one good scholarly information source, such as an article relevant to your topic, as a starting point for finding other useful resources.

Backwards chaining can be useful for tracing how a particular idea has developed, while forwards chaining is a way of tracing the ongoing development of an idea. 

Backwards chaining

Look at the reference list of a good source of information, such as a scholarly journal article, to identify other useful resources. Resources cited in a relevant piece of research that you have found will often be similar in nature because the author of the article you have found has used them in their own research.

Forwards chaining

This involves searching for resources that have cited your starting resource. To do this, check your database or Google Scholar for cited by links. Alternatively check a citation database such as Scopus or Web of Science.

Tip  Other databases increasingly include cited references for the articles they index. Similar information can be found when searching the Library’s online collection.

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A better way to find
If you’ve found the perfect article, and you want to find more, searching forwards…and backwards will help you find them faster.

Searching forwards lets you find research based on your perfect article. Searching backwards will help you find research that your perfect article was based on.

To search forwards, look up the title of your perfect article in databases, the Library's online collections or Google Scholar.

To search backwards, look up items in your perfect article's reference list in the same places. Articles cited in many places are more likely to be highly considered in your subject area.

What else can you do with the perfect article or item?

By choosing the subject terms used to describe your perfect article in a database, you can use these same terms to search for more articles like it. 

You can also set the databases to search automatically for you, and regularly send you results as new research is added. 

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