Gathering Information

  • The quality of your sources and your critical evaluation of them will have a profound effect on the quality of your document. High quality sources are generally those that were relatively recently published, of an appropriate depth for the nature of the assignment, and are themselves well documented.
  • There will always be “classic” sources that retain their value even with age (such as the Bible), but generally the older the text the less relevant it is to contemporary issues and the less it has benefited from more recent discoveries and methodologies.
  • For some assignments dictionary articles may prove useful; for others dictionary articles will be too superficial.
  • Peer- reviewed journal articles that are pertinent to your topic may be helpful sources of information, though the academic quality of journals varies considerably. Evaluating the quality
    of Internet sources is often very difficult; as such sources are frequently the thoughts of an individual that have not been subjected to rigorous academic scrutiny. One must exercise great caution when consulting such sources. A research effort that only consults Internet sources is generally  inadequate.
  • Be sure to have planned your assignment before doing the research. This will save you from wasting time going through information that is irrelevant to your topic.
  • Try to use a range of different sources (newspapers, magazines, books, journal articles, etc).
  • By now you should have identified the key words of your topic (These are also your content words) and will be useful when searching for resources.
Example:
Question: Based on the reading material provided, identify the needs which Rogers says drives a person and explain how these needs shape the counselling process
Keywords: Needs that drive a person
                 Rogers theory
                 Shaping the counselling process using Rogers theory

    1. Before doing your own research from scratch, check:
  • Your course outline for any prescribed readings covered in class.
  • Any recommended readings that may be relevant to the topic.
    2. Now hit the library 
 Search for books directly related to your topic (This can be physical books or you can try searching for books online).Remember your points of focus, derived from your planning.  When searching online use the keywords identified.

     3. Searching for online journal articles
  • You may want to do an initial “Google scholar search”. Some of the articles may be available for download. You can try to find other relevant articles on the Cornerstone databases.
  • You can access the databases through Funda. You will need to login.
  • Select any one of your modules/courses.
  • The tool bar on your left should have Ebsco & Jstor
  • You can click any one of these and use your keywords to search the database.
  • Read the abstracts to give you an idea of whether a particular article is relevant to your topic and download the articles that are most relevant to your topic.
NB
  • When using Ebsco there will be an option to choose databases. Click this and select more than one database (or as many as you want) to ensure that you get more results from the search.
  • You can also limit your search by selecting a time frame (try to have more recent articles), peer reviewed articles and full-text. Check other available limiters that you may want to use.