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Finding Quality Information Online

Finding and using good quality information from a wide variety of sources in your work is an important skill that demonstrates your subject knowledge and your ability as a critical thinker.

However, finding good quality resources online can be challenging. Information can seem endless in its variety, there are conflicting opinions, questionable data, and a fair amount of fake news stories.  As an independent learner, you need to select tools and strategies that can help you navigate toward information that is relevant and that you can rely upon and trust.

To help you, the Library provides access to a wide range of high-quality eBooks and electronic journals. These resources are accessible via Library Search and your Subject Guide, using your University username and password.

Below you’ll find advice on how to search and access our eBook and online journal collections, as well as tips on how to evaluate the information you find online, to make sure it’s relevant and reliable.

You’ll find more support on finding and managing information in the Searching, Reading and Notetaking section.

Finding E-books

Search across the Library’s collection of eBooks using Library Search for simple and immediate access to full texts. You can look directly for specific titles or search by topic keywords to explore subject related resources. Remember to use filter options to limit your results by Full Text Online. You will need to log in using your University username and password to access all titles available electronically.

If you’re looking to find a book or chapter, marked as essential reading by your module leader, first check your module Reading List for quick links to the relevant eBook or scanned chapter.

EBook collections for specific subjects can also be found in your Subject Guide under the Books and eBooks tab. Keep an eye on our Subject Support blog for the latest additions and tips for accessing our eBook collection.

Finding E-journal Articles

Library Search is the best way to access journal articles when you’re off-campus. By making sure you’re logged in correctly, it provides access to the full resource simply and quickly.

Use Library Search’s Everything search to find journal articles by inputting topic or article keywords. Apply filters to display articles only and limit to open access or full text options. For extra quality assurance, also limit to peer-reviewed articles only.

If you want to browse through a particular Journal, use Library Search’s Everything except articles search to find journal titles. After performing your search, use filters to restrict results to show only journals with Full Text Online.

Your Subject Guide also highlights subject specific databases that you can use to find articles in your discipline.  Alternately, explore e-journals in your subject area using BrowZine. Add key journals for your discipline to your own bookshelf and download the BrowZine app to keep up to date with new journal issues.

Tutorial: Finding E-books and E-journals

Evaluating Information Online

Learning how to critically evaluate information sources is a key academic attribute and useful life skill. However, when it comes to evaluating information that you find online, it’s essential.

With the huge volume of information available online nowadays, you will need to consider many issues such as the authority (Who wrote it? Who published it?) of an information source. This will help you make decisions about the quality of the information, its reliability and what role it could play within your studies.

The following video will look at the six questions you need to ask yourself when using online information. Keep these questions at the back of your mind when deciding if you are going to use an online source, but don’t forget to trust your own judgement – if alarm bells are ringing when the website you are on doesn’t look authoritative, is full of adverts or looks dated, trust your instincts.

Stop and ask yourself if the information you are about to use is a reliable, and if in doubt use sources that you know are trustworthy via the Library website:

If still unsure, ask your Liaison Librarian: libraryhelp@ncl.ac.uk

Evaluating information is about having a critical and curious approach, keeping in mind key questions (see above video) to ask yourself as you use an online source, or any new information.

Tutorial: Evaluating Online Journal Articles

Evaluating online information checklists

By now you should have a better idea of the types of questions you need to ask yourself when it comes to evaluating online information. These questions cut across different areas, such as the purpose, authority, objectivity, currency, usability and relevance of the information.

We have put together an evaluation prompt sheet, based around the six key questions, as a tool to help you consider critically, each type of online information that you have found in your search. Download or print a copy of the prompt sheet and use it to evaluate the information you find.

With the massive proliferation of news and information via social media and other channels, claims and discussion about fake news has grown exponentially. As a University student, it is therefore crucial to arm yourself against such misinformation and our Fake News tips will help you develop your judgement.

Plan your Search

Planning your search is an important first step when beginning to look for information, especially when you are engaged in independent study and focusing on online information sources. There are so many different types of information available online, all of varying quality, that you can quickly become overwhelmed by the amount or find yourself wandering away from your topic area.

Having a sense of the questions you are trying to answer and the information you are hoping to find, will help make information searching more manageable. Our Search Planner will help you to break down your search topic into concepts, then into keywords that you can use in your search. It will also help you to gather your ideas about the types of information you want to find and pin down where you should look.

You have the option to send your Search Planner to your Librarian for feedback too. We will help you refine your search terms and suggest where to find the best information online.

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