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FESNS First Year Survival Guide

Source Selection

Choosing your sources is important. Be strategic and use the appropriate source to ensure that you find the right type of information. These sources are listed in the order you should use them.

When beginning your research, you'll want to start out with more broad resources (such as books) to get a better idea of your topic, background information, and any associated keywords. You don't have to read the whole book--just skim the index, table of contents, glossary, and any relevant chapters. Once you have a better idea of your topic, you can use these keywords to search journal articles or conference proceedings for more detailed information. Because these sources can produce research that is experimental or hypothetical, they might not be as grounded in reality as they could be. Using newspaper articles and websites can give you that context and provide a more current source of information.

What Source Should You Use?

Type of Source Advantages Disadvantages Use For Types and Examples
Books

-wide variety of information

-table of contents/index for easy navigation

-may not be the most current source (since publication can take years)

-getting an overview or background information on a topic

-accessing things like formulas, tables, and calculations

-putting your ideas into context

Encyclopedias (ex. Ethics, Science, Technology and Engineering: A Global Resource), handbooks (ex. Handbook of Radiation Effects), dictionaries (ex. Dictionary of Energy), manuals (ex. Decommissioning Health Physics: a Handbook for MARSSIM Users), textbooks (ex. Introduction to Health Physics)
Journal Articles

-usually have reference lists to point you to other information

-often scholarly or reputable in nature

-not always up to date

-specialized language / information can be difficult to understand

-more current information

-original research and scholarly information

-information on a niche, specialized topic

Journal (ex. Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology), Review (ex. Annual Review of Energy and the Environment)
Conference Proceedings -very current -may not always be published or readily available online

-finding out the most recent developments in a particular field/area of research

Transactions (ex. IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Energy), proceedings, symposiums (ex. Nuclear Science Symposium), conferences (ex. International Conference on Nuclear Engineering)
Newspaper Articles -extremely current -often biased -getting up-to-date information about current events, topics, and trends Newspaper websites (ex.The Toronto Star), library databases (ex. CBCA Reference and Current Events)
Websites -extremely current

-may be inaccurate, biased, incomplete, or outdated

-harder to control searches to find relevant results

-getting up-to-date information about current events, topics, and trends

-locating publications (reports, statistics, legislation)

-finding current, contextual information such as interviews, reports, and papers

Government websites (ex. Government of Canada), institutional websites (ex. Ontario Tech)

 

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