Introducing sources for academic study

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Before coming to university, you may have been used to using textbooks are your main sources of information. But as an undergraduate, you'll be expected to use a wider range of sources in your research. That's why it's important to start introducing you to some new ones.

Let's start with books which may be a bit different than the ones you're used to. Many of our books are ebooks, which is great as you can access them anywhere, but you'll also find you won't be using textbooks so much. Instead, you may be reading specialist books focusing on a particular topic, often presenting original scholarship or research.

Also, it's important to know how to get the best out of books. Often you won't need to read the whole book. So use the table of contents or index to focus on what you're looking for. It's important to say that you shouldn't over rely on books, especially as they often go out of date quickly. So you may need to visit other sources for the latest thinking.

This brings us on to journals, which are published regularly, so we're ideal for finding out the latest thinking on a topic. They're like magazines for an academic audience, each containing several articles by different authors. Most of our journals are online and discoverable using Library Search.

At some stage, you'll probably be asked to find peer reviewed journal articles. This just means that articles are from a journal that uses the peer review process for selection. So each article will be examined by a panel of experts in the field before being accepted for publication by the editor of the journal.

You may also hear the terms primary and secondary sources. When people are talking about research. A primary source is one that is firsthand or original sometimes sharing new information. Secondary sources as you'd expect are secondhand and involve analysis or evaluation of primary sources.

In academic libraries, you will find there is a huge variety of different sources to learn about and discover. So please explore and find out more about the wealth of resources available to you here at Falmouth University. Come and talk to us if you're feeling at all unsure.