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Basics of Library Research

The following library webpage provides an overview of library research, including how to find resources and how to evaluate and read what you have found.

Evaluating What You Find

The Four Moves (or SIFT) is a framework for evaluating information. Using this framework can help you identify misinformation and disinformation.

Finding and Evaluating Articles

About Journal Articles

Journal articles are published in academic or scholarly journals and may also be called scholarly articles or peer reviewed articles. Peer review is the process whereby an academic journal article is read by subject experts who provide feedback before publication to ensure the information is accurate and contributes to the research in that area. Peer review is one way to ensure quality control and is one reason why journal articles are considered reliable sources.

Not all scholarly or academic journals are peer reviewed and the articles themselves will not usually say that they are peer reviewed. To check if your article is peer reviewed, you need to look for this information in other locations.

Use the resources on the followoing page, under How to Confirm an Article is Peer Reviewed to learn more about identifying peer reviewed articles.

Finding Journal Articles

Journal articles can be found by searching in the main library search or by searching subject specific databases or free databases such as Google Scholar and PubMed.

For more information on finding and evaluating journal articles visit the library's Types of Resources page on Articles.

Using Government Sources

Many governments around the world share information and research online that they have collected and used to govern and make transparent decisions. This information includes things like data and statistics, reports, legal documents, and committee proceedings.

Canadian Government Sources

The main Canadian government website is Other Canadian Government websites end in For examples, the Statistics Canada website is

Use the following links to access Canadian government reports and information.

Provincial Governments

Provincial governments also publish reports and other information. Once you identify a provincial governments website you can search using keywords to find information relevant to your topic.

Other Governments

Governments around the world publish information on a variety of topics. Government website in the United States often end in .gov. For US government inforation a good first step is to identify the agency that may have information relevant to you and then search their website.

Beyond the United States, there is very little standardization of what a government website looks like and it can be hard to differentiate real ones from fake ones. If you have questions about identifying government sources, contact your librarian.

Finding Textbooks and Handbooks

Your course textbook and other books you can find in the library can be good sources of foundational information in biology. They can provide background information that will help you better understand journal articles or government reports.

You can find print books and ebooks by searching in the main library search. Use broad keywords, such as microbiology AND textbook, or botany AND handbook. Then narrow your results by limiting to books or ebooks. If you still have too many results, you can add more specific keywords to your search.

The Books page of this guide has more tips for searching for books.

Current course textbooks are available from the MacEwan Library Services Desk in the John L. Haar Library for short-term loan (typically two hours) on a first-come, first-served basis. However, we often have older editions available in the library for longer loan periods. You can find these by searching the main library search for the textbook title and then browsing the results list for older editions.

For more information on borrowing current course textbooks see the link below.

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