The Wikipedia Library/Research

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Research literacy
Learn how to access sources

How it works[edit]

Editors often need help with research, either how to locate appropriate sources or to get a copy of a source already cited in an article. Research literacy resources provide them with information on how to perform these fundamental tasks. Resources can include basic guides to accessing sources (as below), subject guides, and more.

Finding a Journal Article
  • If a DOI or other identifier is included, you can click on it to find an online copy of the article. This may or may not be free to access, but will give you a place to start. If the article does not appear free to access, you may still be able to find the article elsewhere, whether online or through a nearby library. Consider the resources in the following points as further guides to accessing such articles.
  • Search for the article title on Google Scholar. If the initial result is behind a paywall, try clicking on the "All X versions" link - this will tell you if other databases include this article, and may help you find an open version. From here, you may be able to find additional sources on similar topics by clicking either the "Related Articles” or “Cited By” links appearing under most article’s link in the results. Articles found using these links and may provide you with information to expand your search.
  • Use OAIster or another open-access search engine to look for an open version of the article
  • Using either the DOI, Google Scholar, or the journal's website, find out what databases index the article in full text. You can then see if either your local library or The Wikipedia Library provides access to these databases.
  • Use WorldCat to see if your local library has a physical version of the journal
  • Request the article or the journal through your library's interlibrary loan service, if available
  • Look through the journals sources page for more ideas on how to find the article.
Finding a Book
  • If the citation includes a ISBN, click on it to locate online versions of the book, or to find it through local or national libraries
  • Use WorldCat to see if your local library has a physical version of the book
  • Request the book through your library's interlibrary loan service, if available
Finding newspaper articles
  • If possible, search a quote from the article to see if it has been republished elsewhere
  • If the article is behind a paywall, see if either your local library or TWL provides access to the newspaper or to a database that indexes it in full text
  • Use WorldCat to see if your local library has a physical (print or microfilm) version of the newspaper issue containing the article
  • Request the article or the newspaper through your library's interlibrary loan service, if available
  • See if an archived version of the article is available via a search feature on the newspaper’s website
Where to look for sources
  • Google or other general search engines are effective for finding online sources in particular, but can also be used for some other kinds of sources depending on the topic area. This video outlines advanced Google searching techniques.
  • Google Scholar is a good general search engine for more academic material, particularly scholarly articles, although some content will be behind a paywall. This longer video outlines the use of Google Scholar.
  • Google Books indexes millions of books, both academic and popular; however, not all will be available in full text. This video introduces the use of Google Books for research.
  • Public or research libraries have both books and research databases, covering a wide variety of subject areas.
  • Make use of The Wikipedia Library's resources: apply for access to databases, request specific sources, or request help with research.
  • Bibliographies on a topic outline the main scholarly sources in a subject area and provide a good starting point, where they are available.
  • Once you have found one good scholarly source, you can see what sources it cites and what cited it (citation chaining). This video describes citation chaining using Google Scholar.
Evaluating sources

Issues to consider in deciding whether a source is reliable include:

  • Who is the author? What are his/her qualifications and reputation? Does he/she have any identifiable biases?
  • Who is the publisher? Is the work self-published? Does the publisher have a history of editorial reputation? Does the publisher have any biases?
  • When was the source published? Is the information outdated?
  • Does the source cite its own sources? Is it based on facts or opinions?
  • Is the source primary, secondary, or tertiary?
  • Are there any obvious errors or omissions?