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Library & Research FAQs: Finding Other Types of Sources

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How can I find credible websites?

How can I find credible websites?

  • Think about who or what kind of institution might be creating information on your topic.
For example, if you're looking for consumer health information, the who you're looking for is probably one or more medical experts, rather than an everyday person writing on their blog. Individual medical experts probably won't create their own website (even if you have an MD, you can't be an expert on everything medical), but they do contribute to larger organizations. Larger institutions have the means (financial, human resources, expertise) to put out accurate consumer information. For example: the Mayo Clinic, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Heart Association, and the World Health Organization.

 

  • If you don't know enough about your topic to know who specifically would be creating information on it, take extra time to try to figure out who is behind it. Don't just look for an About Us page, Google the organization and see what others have to say about them. Do they have an agenda or bias they aren't disclosing on their website?
  • What about .com / .org / .gov / .edu? You could theoretically find credible (or not so credible) information on all of these, so you need to use critical thinking to assess each individual website.
    • .com: A lot of publishers of scholarly journals have .com websites. Of course, just because .com is the most common domain, this doesn't mean a scholarly journal website won't have credible information.
    • .org: This is no longer just for non-profit organizations. Additionally, non-profits can have different types of agendas. Are they more about advocacy, or about education and research?
    • .gov: A government website may be the best place to get information about policies and programs, but the focus of content may change between administrations.
    • .edu: Scholars and researchers work at colleges and universities, but student content may also be published on .edu websites.
    • To search only for websites with one of these domains, in your Google search add site:gov (for example) after your keywords.

See the following FAQ question for more points to consider:

Where can I find data and statistics?

Where can I find data and statistics?

If you're looking for datasets to do your own analysis on, a Google search on the specific variables might not find what you're looking for. Instead, you may first need to find a data repository or archive that collects datasets in a broad research area, such as social sciences. Try searching with terms such as political data sets or social science data repository. Then search within that site or repository for your specific variables.

For finding statistics, see our separate Research Guide:

Also see our databases that contain statistics and data:

If you want additional help locating datasets or statistics on the variables you're looking for, ask a librarian at the Reference Desk, or contact the librarian for your discipline.

Where can I find online encyclopedias and dictionaries?

Where can I find online encyclopedias and dictionaries?

Like Wikipedia, our online encyclopedias and dictionaries can provide helpful background information, topic ideas, definitions, and possible keywords for searching for other types of sources.

See our separate Research Guide of E-Reference Resources to search general online encyclopedias, as well as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks for specific subject areas:

Where can I find images I can use for research?

Where can I find images I can use for research?

A basic Google image search can be a quick way to find images, but just like any other sources you use, images must be cited.

A lot of images online can appear with little context, so it might not be clear who the original creator was, or when or where it originated. Can you find out enough about the image to be confident about what it's representing?

See our separate Research Guide on Finding and Using Images for tips on image searching and places to look that will give you the information about an image that you need:

Where can I find legal information?

Where can I find legal information?

See our separate Research Guide for help with finding or citing legal information, or ask a librarian at the Reference Desk:

Where can I find government publications?

Where can I find government publications?

Government publications include documents created by state and local governments, the federal government, and international organizations such as the European Union. They can provide authoritative and timely information on your topic.

To limit a Google search to only government websites, add "site:gov" after your keywords:.

You can also limit to only New Hampshire state government sites using "site:nh.gov". For example:

Example Google search "education funding site:nh.gov"

This will search across all sites with URL's ending in nh.gov, such as:

  • The State of New Hampshire website: https://www.nh.gov
  • The Governor of New Hampshire's website: https://www.governor.nh.gov
  • The New Hampshire Department of Education website: https://www.education.nh.gov

See our separate Research Guide for additional help with finding government publications, or ask a librarian at the Reference Desk:

Where can I find biographies?

Where can I find biographies?

If you're looking for basic biographical information about a person, an encyclopedia/reference work entry might be the right type of source. Different encyclopedias may have different length biographies, so check additional ones if the first isn't sufficient. You can use the E-References Resource Guide to help you locate online encyclopedias and other reference materials. 

If you're looking for a more in-depth biography, search for books in our Library Catalog, or in WorldCat if we don't have a book about your person of interest.