You can find Information anywhere — books, diaries, social media, blogs, personal experiences, magazine articles, expert opinions, encyclopedias, and web pages — and the type of information you need will vary depending on the question you are trying to answer for your assignment or research.
Different assignments require information from a variety of sources; therefore, you need to understand where to go to find certain types of information. Knowing what type of source you need will also help you find the correct source.
There are three broad categories of sources:
Take a look through these tabs for definitions and a few examples.
Primary sources are original materials on which other research is based. They are firsthand documents that provide direct evidence on your topic.
News film footage
Tertiary sources are organisation, categorisation, index or collection of sources. A tertiary source presents summaries or condensed versions of materials, usually with references back to the primary and/or secondary sources.
Fact books and digests
Directories and guidebooks
Indexing and abstracting sources
We offer one-to-one appointments to help you with your research and literature reviews. These appointments are being offered online through Microsoft Teams.
You can book an appointment with your Subject Librarian using our online appointments page:
Before you start
Consider 3 questions:
Highlight the key terms or keywords in your assignment question. Think carefully about suitable keywords and synonyms which are alternative words that have a similar meaning that will enable you to find manageable amounts of relevant material - not so many results to cause information overload, or so few that you retrieve insufficient information.
Think about alternative words/phrases or synonyms you should include in your search in order to improve your search results.
If you were researching the failure of small business in the UK you could use the following keywords:
As well as searching for the UK, you might also search for:
Use a thesaurus for synonyms: https://www.powerthesaurus.org/
Some databases have a built-in thesaurus you can use to find alternative terms.
Think about if you can use acronyms or abbreviations in your search. These can be included in your search terms in order to find matching results.
Have a look at the following websites to find more abbreviations and acronyms:
There are over 230,000 entries and 81 categories such as business, medicine, science and international abbreviations and acronyms.
Acronym Finder is a searchable dictionary of over 330,000 acronyms and abbreviations.
Think about differences in spellings and terminology, and use alternatives into your search strategy.
Wildcard symbols can help with this:
See 'Using symbols ?' box in the right hand column for further information on how to do this.
Boolean operators form the basis of database logic and are used to combine concepts when searching. By using these operators, you are able to focus your search. They connect your search words together to either narrow or broaden your set of results.
The three basic boolean operators are:
Remember to type these operators in capital letters.
Why use Boolean operators?
Use AND in a search to:
cat AND dog
exercise AND health
pollution AND water AND pesticides
Be aware: In many, but not all, databases, the AND is the default search and automatically puts an AND in between your search terms.
Use OR in a search to:
cat OR dog
travel OR tourism
cloning OR genetics OR reproduction
Use NOT in a search to:
cat NOT dog
cloning NOT sheep
travel NOT tourists
You can use multiple operators within the same search to get even more effective and powerful results. Databases follow commands you type in and return results based on those commands. When combining your search terms, be aware of your search order.
You are looking for information on cloning humans and cloning sheep. You could combine your operators as:
If you do not use the (parentheses) and search using the following cloning AND sheep OR human, your search will be processed as:
Every time you get results from a database, you will need to manage them.
To avoid duplicating your searches again and again, save them!
Take a look through these tabs to find out more on how to save searches and records and how to go about emailing them to yourself.
If you find that you are repeatedly searching for the same word or phrase, you can save a search term to your Account on Primo.
In Primo, at the top of the search results page, you will see an option to Save query.
If you would like to be notified by email when new results are added to your search, click Turn on notification for this query on the banner that appears.
Click on the push pin icon which is located in the top right hand corner of the Primo page to go to your favourites, and then click the Saved Searches tab to view your saved searches:
You have the option to delete these saved searches whenever you wish by clicking on Unpin this search:
next to the search you wish to remove.
If you have found an item on Primo you wish to save to your account for future reference, you can store or save a record by clicking the push pin icon next to the title.
At the top right of the Primo page, click the "Go to my favourites" push pin icon to view your saved items.
You can email your saved items to yourself too.
next to the title.