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School of Performance THF 101 Library Instruction

This guide is an updated version of the performance instruction guide

What you will learn - Where to Start your Research

Performance Library Instruction 5 Modules


What you will learn



By the end of these modules, you will:

  • Know where to start your research and be able to choose between Google and the library's website for your sources
  • Know what a database and a scholarly article are and be able to find articles using the Library's databases
  • Identify the difference between a popular versus a scholarly (peer-reviewed) source
  • Identify the keywords and synonyms of your research question
  • Know why you need to cite your sources

Google and the Library's Website

Learning Objective: Understand why the library's website is essential for research

Now check out the Library website.


Learning Objective: Identify the key differences between the library's website and Google

So why can’t I just use Google?

It’s true you can find some good sources by searching Google, but the majority of academic level sources you need for your assignment are locked into expensive databases owned by private companies. 

The Library pays for access to these databases and as a student, you have free access to them if you search through the library's website. 

You can still use Google to search for government or non-government reports, but remember, relying solely on Google for your sources won’t cut it at the university level. 

So where should you start? - Especially if you have no idea what your topic is about!

You can start by looking through your textbook or course readings. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with using Wikipedia and Google to get an idea of what your topic is about.

After that, the next step is to find authoritative information. For this you need to use the library's website!

How to develop your research skills

Learning Objective: Understand university-level research skills 

Why you need to learn the skill of searching for information

Your research assignments are designed to help you develop an important life skill - the skill of finding, evaluating and using information to answer questions and develop new ones. This is a pretty important life skill that you will use to write your essays, buy a new car or complete a very important report for your boss at work.

By the time you graduate you will know the following....


Your topic is part of a bigger conversation:

This conversation has been going on for a very long time with many different viewpoints. Your paper is part of this conversation and you know you should look at sources with opposing viewpoints to engage in this dialogue.  

Your research process involves false starts, repeating steps and asking increasingly complex questions.

You’ll start out finding information on the simple questions like “what does my topic mean?” Once you know the answer to the simple questions, you will move onto finding sources that help answer the more fundamental questions of your topic like “why does this matter?”

You ask critical questions about the “authority” of your source.

You ask relevant questions about the origin, context, and suitability of the information before you use it. You understand that there are authorized forms of information for discipline or career specific situations (like peer reviewed journals).   

You know formats like Academic Journals strive for information quality and accuracy.

You understand that different types of formats (a book vs. a Tweet) will affect quality of information.


You find sources using different search strategies and you budget time to go back and find even more sources.

You try different keywords to find a broad range of information sources (books, journals, newspapers) and seek out different avenues (Databases, Government websites etc.,).

You always cite your sources because you understand that information has value

You understand that citing is a legal responsibility to respect the work of others just as your work should be respected.

Creative Commons License

This guide has been created by the Toronto Metropolitan University Library and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 License unless otherwise marked.

Creative Commons Attribution License