Information sources

What are these?

With the lack of quality control on the web, you will often encounter inaccurate information. One way of ensuring the quality of your sources is to use those that have been judged as suitable by a trusted authority.

Sources you will find via the routes described below:

  • have been compiled by universities, or
  • use traditional publishing accreditation processes such as peer review, or
  • are the result of schemes to make traditional print-based media available online.

As with all the information sources you use, you should still use the ideas outlined in the Assessing information screen (in the Getting started section of your course) to make your own judgements about the sources you find.

Google scholar

Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories, universities and other scholarly organizations. Google Scholar helps you identify the most relevant research across the world of scholarly research.

Oxford Reference Online

Oxford Reference is a comprehensive online resource that contains over 250 dictionaries and reference titles. Oxford Reference is a subscription-based resource. Students of the Department’s award-bearing courses can access Oxford Reference through the University’s library catalogue (SOLO) using their Oxford username, and online short course students can access the majority of Oxford Reference resources, as well as many other Oxford University Press (OUP) online resources, through the ‘Oxford Reference Online’ block on their online course homepage. The Oxford Reference Online page provides further information for online short course students about the OUP online resource collections available, including details of how to access and search them.

Directory of Open Access Journals

DOAJ covers free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals.


There are a growing number of schemes to make the full text of books available online. The following are some of the largest sources:

Open educational resources

A growing number of universities release free educational content as Open Educational Resources (OER). You can discover these on most universities’ websites. Some examples are:

If you want a more general resource, OER Commons is a good place to start.

Lectures, podcasts and videos

Many universities and other organisations make freely available a wide range of podcasts and videos of lectures and other learning resources. Popular sites to find these resources include:

A note about Wikipedia

For many web users Wikipedia is the first place to go to for information about almost anything. Wikipedia makes use of technology that enables all users to contribute or edit content, and it contains information on a huge range of topics. However, because content can be contributed, or changed, by anyone at any time, it should not be regarded as an authoritative source. It is safest to think of Wikipedia as ‘work in progress’, and it is always advisable to corroborate any information found there from an additional, authoritative source. Wikipedia articles should contain lists of references, and that’s a good place to start – following up those references will help to put the Wikipedia article in context. For more information see Using Wikipedia for research.

Finding information on the internet

The Bodleian Continuing Education Library has produced extensive guidance on finding information on the internet. The CRAAP Test is a useful tool for evaluating the reliability of information sources.

Further help

If you found this page useful you may like to explore the information on our other Study help pages.