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Home About SAIT News & Events First, find it. Second, cite it.

First, find it. Second, cite it.

If your assignment needs research, you’ve come to the right place.

Researching and citing your sources for an essay, paper or presentation is a skill you can build. Check out the tips below and connect with your Reg Erhardt Library for more.   

Get started with a strategy

It’s important to know what you need to find before you try to find it. Start by asking some questions:

  • What do I know about the topic already? What do I need to find out?
  • Do I understand the question(s) I’m trying to answer? Do I need background information or specific information?
  • Do I need to find sources on different sides of an issue?
  • What kind of source do I need to answer my questions?
    • Academic journals typically contain primary research and data.
    • Trade publications typically contain industry perspectives.
    • Books are a good place to go for background information or an overview of a topic.

Note the main concepts and secondary concepts of your topic/question. Then brainstorm synonyms and related terms. These will be the keywords for your search.

Find your sources

A variety of sources from different perspectives/points of views can make your assignment stronger.

Search tips: Reg Erhardt Library

  • Don’t use full sentences or questions – use the keywords that you brainstormed when you developed your search strategy.
  • Use quotation marks around one or more words to search by phrase and limit results.
    • For example, “sales tax” is more specific than, sales tax.
  • Use truncation to find a variety of potential word variations.
    • For example, a search for Canad* will return results for both Canada and Canadian.
  • Once you search, narrow your results using date and source type as appropriate.
  • If you have too many results, you may need to add additional keywords to narrow even further.
  • If you have too few results, you may need to take out keywords to broaden your search.

Search tips: Google

  • Full sentences and questions will work, but sometimes keywords are more effective.
  • Use phrase searching, as above.
  • Use type: at the end of your search to locate a specific file type.
    • For example, type:.pdf can be useful to find grey literature — research and papers from non-profits, government agencies, businesses, etc.
  • Use site: at the end of a search to find results on a single website — this is useful to find specific information on very big websites with lots of pages.
  • Try the advanced search function to focus your results.

📝 Remember to update your search strategy as you find new terms and keywords.

Looking for an image?

Check the library guide for links and information on copyright. 

Evaluate your sources

As you search for and select your sources, use your RADAR. Ask yourself:  

  • Relevance — is this source relevant?
  • Authority — what credentials and/or experience does the author have?
  • Date — is this recent enough for my topic?
  • Appearance — what type of source is this? Does it have any references?
  • Reason — was this published to inform, educate, persuade or sell?

Cite your sources

Anytime you use someone else’s words, ideas, opinions, data, etc., you must cite your sources! SAIT supports three citation styles and the library has guides for all of them. Take a look:

📝 Different source types have different requirements for citations. Not every online source is a website.


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