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How do I: Find Appropriate Sources of Information

This guide covers Information, Media, and Digital Literacy concepts and Digital Citizenship for Gr. 9-12 students, as well as teacher and parents.

Find Appropriate Sources of Information

Find Synonyms: Use a Dictionary or a Thesaurus

Secondary Sources: How to read a journal article

What kinds of sources are there?

Reference Sources are an excellent place to start your research because they:

  • Provide a good introduction to a topic
  • Provide brief, factual information
  • Summarize and clarify issues
  • Define unfamiliar terms
  • Identify additional relevant sources such as books or websites

Examples of Reference Sources:

  • Encyclopedias
  • Dictionaries
  • Handbooks
  • Almanacs


Memorial University Librarires.  (2013).  What are Reference Sources?  Retrieved from 

Primary Source is a document, record, or work created at the time of an event or by a person who directly experienced an event.  A Primary Source contains original data and is from the time period being researched; it has not yet been filtered through interpretation.


  • Artifacts (e.g. coins, plant specimens, fossils, furniture, tools, clothing, all from the time under study)
  • Audio Recordings (e.g. radio programs)
  • Diaries
  • Interviews
  • Letters
  • Newspaper Articles
  • Photographs
  • Speaches
  • Video Recordings
  • Works of art, architecture, literature, and music (e.g., paintings, sculptures, musical scores, buildings, novels, poems).


      University of Maryland Libaries.  (2013).  Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources.  Retrieved from 

      University of Victoria Libraries.  (2013).  Primary or Secondary Sources.  Retrieved from

*The above references are in APA format.

A Secondary Source is an account written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.  A Secondary Source usually describes, interprets, summarizes, analyzes, evaluates, is derived from, or is based on Primary Source materials.


  • Books and Textbooks about past events/people
  • Biographies
  • Historical films
  • Music and art about a past events/person
  • Articles about past events/people


   University of Maryland Libaries.  (2013).  Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources.  Retrieved from

   University of Victoria Libraries.  (2013).  Primary or Secondary Sources.  Retrieved from

What is a journal article?

The majority of the VLC databases for Grade 9-12 contain journal articles, but do you know what a journal article is? 

The defining characteristics of a scholarly journal article are:

  • It has likely undergone the peer-review process - peer reviewed articles are a reliable source of information (see the below link for more information)
  • It is approximately 8-30 pages in length
  • It is written by scholars 
  • It contains many citations to other research
  • It is usually written about a very specific topic