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Acquire sources

Locate and evaluate sources for your issue.


Use Google Scholar, publisher databases, libraries, and Interlibrary loans to acquire hardcopies of your sources.



Acquiring sources

As a researcher, your working assumption should be that you can always get a source text.  You not only live in a time where academic information is instantly available, you also are part of a research institution that gives you access to this information in a way that few have.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar makes it easy to find an amazing amount of information.  If you have the reference to an article printed in the last decade, there's a good chance the pdf is somewhere on the web.  Often, authors will post the pdf on their personal websites.

Publisher sites & VPN

If the pdf (of a journal article) is not freely available on the internet, it's usually available for a fee from the publisher's website.  If you are part of a research university however, you will have access to the publisher's site through the university.  If you are off-campus, log in to the universities VPN (virtual private network) and then search for the article.  If the university has access to that publisher, you will be able to download the article.

The Library

If you are looking for an academic book, there is a decent chance it's available at the University Library (or for a non-academic book, at the public library).  Search the library database to see if it's available

Interlibrary Loan and UBorrow

If your University Library doesn't have the book or article, they can almost certainly get it through an interlibrary loan or UBorrow service.  Simply find the service on the University library website and request the source.



To build your library, start with the bibliography in your reference manager and do the following:

1. Acquire sources

Using Google Scholar, Publisher databases, Libraries and Interlibrary loan, physically get as many as you can at the library, if not there, set the reference aside.

2. Evaluate the texts you have gathered.

Valuate your sources (mark "to be read" or not based on following:)

  • does the author discuss my issue or was my citation misleading?
  • does the author take a position on my issue or does the text simply inform?
  • does the author cover important topics in my issue or does the text seem obscure?
  • does the author represent a significant new perspective on my issue or do I already have a better representative?
  • does the author mention problem cases that concern me or does the text deal with situations I am not considering?
  • is the author an authority on the issue or is the text a superficial treatment?
  • does the author provide a useful bibliography or is the text undocumented?
  • was the text published in an important time period for my issues or does it predate crucial developments?

3. Snowball

Use the references from your sources to find additional sources (allowing you to find previously published articles).  When you find a useful author, look for what that author has published recently or other articles that cite that author (allowing you to find articles published later).  Add these to the reference manager and continue the process.