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University of Newcastle Library guides

Research Help for International Students: Understand your sources

Guide to assist international students find information for assignments.

Understand your sources

There are many different sources of information you can use to research your assignments.  Some of the more commonly used sources are listed below.

Books Provide background information and overall coverage of a topic. They may take a long time to be published, so some information could be out-of-date.

Focus on specific topics, and contain different articles written by different authors. Journals are published regularly (weekly, monthly, quarterly etc.), so the information is up-to-date.

Different types of journals

News media News items are reported daily and can be useful for commentary and discussion of current events locally, nationally or internationally. Be careful to only use news sources that are reliable, e.g. ABC News, as the information may be biased.
Websites Can provide access to current information not available elsewhere, e.g. government reports and company information. Anyone can create content on the Internet, so not all information found on the web is reliable.  
Contain current information and report on a wide range of issues.
Statistics Organise, analyse, and summarise data. Useful for supporting theories and arguments, and describing situations or trends

So which source is best?  This depends on your assignment. Read the lecturer's instructions to see what is appropriate.

As a general rule, lecturers usually expect you to use scholarly sources in your assignments.