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Understanding Sources: Website Sources


Academic research also utilizes data culled from sources not found in article databases and, depending on the research topic, peer reviewed scholarly articles may not provide the right information. When developing your research strategy reflect on the type of information you need (Is it statistical data? current news?) and what entity has an interest in collecting that data.

If your topic is currently developing in the news you may find that scholarly sources aren't discussing it yet. That's because there is a lag in academia, it doesn't unfold in real time.

Scholarly sources regularly cite statistical data, reports, surveys, primary sources, etc. You may want to consult the websites of government departments/agencies, organizations active on an issue, and non-profits. For example, the USAID website provides breakdowns of foreign assistance aid. And, keep in mind that not all information is digitized or available online. It may be necessary to contact organizations, like the Library of Congress or National Archives, directly.

It's really about knowing who would gather the information you want. One way to narrow these sources down is to limit your web searches to government (.gov), education (.edu), military (.mil), or non-profit (.org) sites. 

The easiest way to do this is:

1. When you enter your search term(s) add "site:gov"  (or site:mil, site:edu, site:org) to retrieve only websites with that domain suffix.