Literature databases usually index several kinds of scholarly writing. It's important to be familiar with them so that you choose the correct type of article for your assignments. Different databases may call them different things; more about that elsewhere in this guide.
Using general web search engines can give you a variety of sources - some may be good as a start to get idea or background information about a topic, even though they are not scholarly research articles. However, it is still important to look for appropriate information. When evaluating a resource (whether it is print or web-based) there are questions you can ask yourself to determine if it is high quality and a good match for your project or paper. These questions fall into the following 5 categories:
Who created the resource? Are the author, organization, affiliations, and publisher clearly shown? If the page is web-based does it link to information about the organization? Does the author have credintials or expertise in the subject matter? Is the resource from a government agency, university, company, non-profit organization?
Is the information contained in the source properly cited? Is there a bibliography or reference list? Can you verify the information in other sources? Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors? Is the statistical data clearly explained? Are charts and graphs properly represented and cited?
Is the resource free of advertising? Or, if there is advertising, is it clearly seperate from content? Is there any bias? Is the sponsoring organization bias or motivated to report facts from a particular perspective?
When was the resource created? When was it updated or revised? Is it kept current? When was the information gathered?
Is the information complete? Does it cover the subject in depth? Does it match your information needs?