Conducting a Literature Review: Information Resources

Interactive learning module that guides you through the process of identifying, evaluating, and using scholarly information to research and write a literature review. URL:


After completing this section, you will be able to identify and select a variety of types and formats of potential sources to meet your information needs.

  • Read about the various types of information sources available to you.
  • Review the materials linked in the Resources box to learn how to identify scholarly journal articles and how to differentiate between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources.
  • Assess if an article is scholarly or not in the Activity box.

Information Resources

Selecting the best information resources to answer your research question depends on the depth of the information you need and the time frame you wish to explore. Ask yourself what kind of information you need:

  • General or specific information?
  • Narrative analysis or statistical data?
  • Current or historical information?

Use the table below to help determine the type of source that will best serve your purpose. Remember that you will probably want to use more than one type to locate the wide variety of information that fully covers your research topic.

Type of Information Purpose Type of Source
Background information Broad overview of a topic, defines terms, provides context Books, reports, encyclopedias, dictionaries, government documents
Current information Recent events, news, reports, statistical data Newspapers, magazines, websites
Scholarly information Research studies, in-depth analysis Scholarly journal articles, books

A database is a collection of information arranged into individual records. Some databases are multidisciplinary, while other databases are discipline- or subject-specific. Use one or more of these resources to locate journal articles on our topic.

Which should I use?

Databases Smart Search & Google Scholar
Search only one database at a time Search more than one database at a time
Subject-specific = more focused Multidisciplinary
Manageable list of results Many more results, can be less manageable

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