Search for books, articles, and more.
Reference sources can help you find background information on your topic. This is helpful for general understanding, especially if you are new to this topic. These sources can also help you identify some good keywords to use as you research further. Most people know about Wikipedia--for a more scholarly source of background information, try the library database Credo Reference.
Peer-reviewed journal articles and academic books provide in-depth information, generally written by highly-regarded experts. Many initiatives to overcome societal problems are rooted in scholarly research. Can you draw connections between your artifact and scholarly research?
Find these in a number of library databases. The Discovery Service includes results from many (but not all!) of these databases at once. Starting with an Advanced Search is helpful when you are combining two or more search terms/concepts.
To fully understand context and impact, you may need to consult media reports on a topic/situation. You can filter newspaper articles in a Discovery search, but it can be more efficient to search newspapers directly. Some library databases are devoted specifically to newspapers.
You can learn a lot by searching the web. For example, you may need to visit the website of an organization or person to learn more about context. You can be a power searcher of Google by using the Advanced Search.
Remember, anyone can publish something on the web, so evaluate web sources especially carefully.
A strategy called SIFT can help you evaluate a source by looking OUTSIDE the source itself.
SIFT stands for:
STOP: Assess what you know about the source. If it is from a creator/site that are unfamiliar to you or if you aren't sure it is reliable, continue with the other steps.
INVESTIGATE: Do some quick research into the website, organization, or creator to learn more about where this information is coming from, and what the purpose/agenda might be.
FIND: Seek out additional, trusted coverage of the same information. Do sources you already know to be reliable back up the information from this source?
TRACE: Is the source you are examining the originator of the information? If it came from somewhere else, trace the claim to the original source. You may find additional, important context.