Your instructor wants you to use scholarly [or 'peer reviewed'] sources. What does she mean?
Scholarship is always changing. Try to find the most recent scholarly sources you can.
Most books and articles you find through the library website are suitable as sources for your paper - but some are not!
This 5-minute silent video will make it clear.
When you find a source, study it to see whether it's "scholarly". Scholarly publications include footnotes and bibliographies documenting their sources, list the author's credentials, and in most cases have been validated through a peer review process.
For more details, see our Critical Evaluation of Resources page.
If you're using web pages found through Google or other search engines, evaluation is especially important, since these tools have no built-in validation of the content. For help, see our guide to Evaluating Web Pages.
Please note: this course guide was created during a previous semester, and is no longer being actively maintained. For a list of current course guides, please see http://lib.berkeley.edu/alacarte/course-guides.
"I'm writing a paper on World War II."
Often students start their research with a very general topic, even though they may realize the topic is too large to deal with in a 10-15 page paper. Faculty and librarians tell them, "You have to narrow this down." But how do you narrow a topic?
You can combine these ideas, "What were the major impacts of WWII on women in France, in the decade after the war?"
More ideas in our brief tutorial on topic selection and narrowing.
The most important research section of the library web site is the Library Electronic Resource Finder. This is the library directory of databases and other information resources, organized by subject (e.g. political science) type (e.g. encyclopedias) as well as other categories. It also contains a link to a comprehensive listing of library e-journals.
"There are no dumb questions!"
That's the philosophy of reference librarians, who are here to save you time and trouble. If you get stuck, you can talk to a reference librarian at any campus library.
Other ways to get help: in person, by e-mail, using specialized chat services
More questions? Our FAQs may help.
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