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Interactive Modules on the Fundamentals of Library Research

Basic Search Limiters

One of the reasons the Library databases are so useful is because they allow you to limit your results to just the type of content you need.

For example, if you need peer-reviewed articles, you can limit your search results so that you only see peer-reviewed articles. Generally, you can find the limiters below the search boxes in a database. 

Learn More About Basic Search Limiters

Quick Tips

  • Don't use limiters excessively. Only use the ones that are most important to your search. Otherwise, you might limit yourself out of any results.
  • Some limiters may be available only on a database's advanced search page. Look for a link to advanced search options if you don't see the limiters you need.

Break a Topic into Keywords

Learn how to identify main concepts in complex research topics, use main concepts to identify synonyms or related words to be used as keywords, and employ advanced database searching.

Break a Topic into Keywords

Locate Resources

Discover strategies to search for and locate different types of resources through the Walden Library databases, identify relevant publication information for articles found, and cite and reference articles using APA.

Locate, Cite, and Reference Journal Articles
Locate Evidence-Based Practice
Locate and Reference Magazines and Newspapers
Locate, Cite, and Reference Legal Resources

Identify and Evaluate Sources

Publication Types

In a physical library, it is fairly easy to tell if what you are holding is a book, a journal article, a dissertation, etc. However, in an online library, you don't have those physical clues to help you with identifying a resource. If you don't know what type of resource you are looking at, it will be hard to tell if it is appropriate for your assignment or research. On the following pages you will find information about these publication types:

After you've reviewed all of these pages, you can test your knowledge by taking our quiz:

Selecting the Right Resource

After identifying the various types of publications, consider when use of each type might be appropriate.

Please Note: These are general guidelines. Please refer to your discussion, assignment, or capstone rubric for specific requirements.

Learn How To Select the Right Resource

Primary and Secondary Resources

Primary and Secondary Resources 

A question to ask yourself when trying to identify primary or secondary sources is:

Did the person writing the thing do the thing?

While this may sound odd, the best indicator that something is a primary source is if the author of the piece actually DID the work that led to the creation of the resource.

These are some other things to consider with primary and secondary sources.

  • Primary and secondary sources can be different publication types. Articles can be primary or secondary, just as books can be.
  • Primary and secondary sources are not related to peer review in any way. Peer-reviewed articles can be either primary or secondary sources.
  • There is no perfect database limiter for primary or secondary, either. There are no check boxes like there are with with peer review.
  • Primary and secondary sources don't self identify as such. Nowhere in a primary source will it say, "this is a primary source." You need to evaluate the resource to figure it out.

Evaluating Websites

The term website might be used to refer to anything you find on the Internet. People often use the word in this general way.

However, there is a distinction between online resources available through a Library database, and websites that anyone can find on the World Wide Web with a search engine.

Websites - Evaluating Resources

Evaluating Resources: Questions to Consider


Who is the Author?

  • Where does s/he work?
  • What else has the author written?
  • What qualifies the author to write on this topic?


What makes the Publisher trustworthy?

  • Who is the publisher?
  • When was it published?
  • What type of publication is it? (Peer-reviewed journal article, academic book, government document, popular magazine, etc.)


Does the information appear authoritative and supported by facts?

  • Is the information presented without obvious bias?
  • Is the language objective and not overly emotional?
  • Is the information appropriate to your needs?
  • Can you verify the information in other sources?
  • Does the author provide a list of works cited?
  • What makes the content trustworthy?
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