10.7: Making a Source Plan

Your Source Plan

If you are an inexperienced researcher, making a source plan may help you ensure that you have covered all your  information needs in your search. Once more, thinking about categories can help.

You will probably use some popular sources, some professional sources, and some academic sources. Sources in the first category might be the easiest to access but might not provide sophisticated enough information for your needs. Use such sources with caution. Professional sources might be freely accessible on the internet, accessible at a fee, or inaccessible in this manner — for instance, if you want to access a specific company’s sales data and they are not publicly accessible, you can try to write to them and see if they might agree to provide them to you. In other cases, if the information should be publicly accessible and it’s not, you might decide to file a lawsuit to get it (for instance, if you are a journalist researching some corporations’ unethical practices). Academic sources are usually accessible free of charge only through institutional databases (the Fanshawe Library, for instance, pays subscription to a variety of academic journals; you can download articles free of charge, but the college does pay for your access).

Once again, while you can start your research work with a Google search, basing a research report on information from a few sources picked from the first few pages of Google results is a bad idea — in school, you will likely get a poor grade, and at work, you might be fired. Nobody needs to read a report that compiles information anyone could easily locate in a few minutes. In addition, as many of you know, the order in which Google lists results has very little to do with professional reliability or relevance and a lot to do with popularity and money.

Before you start looking, try the Plan for Sources table below along with the suggestions made in this section to think through what sources you’ll need for specific aspects/ sections of your research project.

Plan For Sources Worksheet. Image description available.
Figure 10.7.1 Plan For Sources.

You can download this table (in MS Word) then fill it out. Using this table doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind if you later find another kind of resource that looks promising, but it might help you avoid making poor choices as you start your selection of sources for your research.

Image Description

Figure 10.7.1. image description: This plan for sources allows students to identify their information needs, the kind of sources they’ll need, the publication formats and where to look. This will make a source plan. [Return to Figure 10.7.1.]


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10.7: Making a Source Plan Copyright © 2021 by Melissa Ashman; Arley Cruthers; eCampusOntario; Ontario Business Faculty; and University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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