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Library StART - get started with your writing assignment

Identifying information


Decide what kind of information you need. Is it general, or quite specific?
Take a look at the examples below.

General information


For a question that is general or about getting background information on a topic, it is best to use textbooks and maybe some relevant and reliable websites.


  • Good starting point
  • Contains background or general information
  • Reliable
  • May not contain the most up to date research  




There are many reliable websites out there that can help you get information on topics like diabetes. They can be good for:

  • Background or general information
  • Patient information
  • Clinical guidelines
  • Remember to use reliable websites, and to evaluate what you find.
More on that in section 3: Evaluate




Wikipedia has some very good content but equally contains some incorrect and /or incomplete content. For this reason, Wikipedia can be a good starting point but you cannot rely on it as your sole source. You should always cross-check any information you find with other authoritative sources eg text books or reliable websites.


More on that in section 3: Evaluate


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Answering a specific question


The information that you want is quite specific and you would also want the most up to date research, so search 'Articles and more' on Hunter to find relevant journal articles.

More on this in Section 2: Find Information



Journals are publications issued at regular intervals containing reviews and research articles on academic topics. They may be published in print or electronically - most of the journals you can use through St George's Library are online.

  • Journals contain the latest research on a topic
  • Before articles are published, they are usually scrutinised by other experts. This process is known as peer review and ensures that the information is of good quality.
  • They are available online in most cases, so you don't need to leave your desk to read them.
  • Journals aren't suitable for background reading on a topic, use a text book or a reliable website instead.


Tip: You can read a summary of the article to see if it is relevant to your question by clicking on the 'Details' option in Hunter.

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Summary of information sources

This table below recaps the different information sources, when to use them, and when not to use them.

  Books   Journals

Recommended Websites

Internet Search

Use to find Background or general information  The latest academic research on your specific topic

Background or general information

Patient information

General information

Quick facts


They give a broad introduction to a topic

They are reliable   

They are published regularly so the research is up to date

The information is reviewed by other experts so it is reliable

The information is written in a way that is easy to understand The search tools are familiar and readily available
Don't use to find The latest information and research Background or general information Academic research on a topic Academic research on a topic
Because Writing and publishing a book takes 2 years or more The topics in the articles will be quite specific

The information is intended for a general audience

The information may not have been evaluated

The information is intended for a general audience

The information may not have been evaluated

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Identify information: Test Yourself

Test your knowledge by answering the questions below. Click on the question to see the answers.

Q1. Where would you look for the latest research on preventing diabetes through exercise? Journals, books or websites?


Q2. Where would be the best place to look for some general information on diabetes in children? Journals, books or websites?


Q3. Where would you look to find the meaning of 'diabetic ketoacidosis'? Journals, books or websites?