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Find, access and use information effectively: a step-by-step guide: Find different media, formats and social media

Find, access and use information effectively: a step-by-step guide

Social media

2019 South African social media stats by Media Update

31 million people use internet (54% of the population)

40% use social media

South Africans spend an average of 2hrs 48 min on social media

Social media for research

Different media and formats

Library Search is our library's search engin which is organised to search all the items the library owns. You use Library Search to find what items the library owns on your topic. 

Reference works provide brief information.  You can use reference material to find facts, figures, addresses, statistics, definitions and dates. Examples: dictionaries, biographies, directories, encyclopaedias and atlases.  

Books & E-books will be one of the main sources you will use for your research.  Books provide in depth coverage of a subject.

Academic journals is a collection of articles usually written by scholars, researchers or academics in an academic or professional field.  Academic journals focus on a specific area or discipline and are published weekly, monthly, or yearly.  Articles published in these journals are supported by references and other scholarly material.  Academic journals can be used to find what has been studied on your topic as well as find bibliographies that will point you to relevant research.

Databases contains full-text academic articles, books, book chapters, magazines and more. Use databases when you want to find research on your topic.

Theses and dissertations are original research presented by degree program candidates.  They are best suited for use in academic projects requiring a thorough review of literature on a topic.  Dissertations, Doctoral theses and Master’s theses are often available in full text in open repositories.

Magazines contain articles written by journalists and are geared towards a general audience.  Use magazines to find up-to-date information about current events.  PressReader provides online access to over 7200 newspapers and magazines, including more than 200 form South Africa.

News and newspapers are usually published daily about current events.  South African newspaper clippings are available in SA Media.  You can use newspapers to find current information about local, national and international events.  PressReader provides online access to over 7200 newspapers and magazines, including more than 200 form South Africa.

Subject guides are developed by librarians who specialize in different subject areas. Subject guides provide links to online journals and library databases, and recommend books and other resources for doing research in specific academic disciplines.

Librarians are a great source of information.  They can help you find the sources for your research topic.

Unpublished works such as personal or corporate collections of essays, reports, letters, photographs, sound and video recordings can be very useful in projects on historical topics.  They are usually housed in archival facilities but some can be previewed on the Web.  SUNDigital collections showcase digital content from the library's unique digital collections and repositories. 

Internet sites contain a vast array of information and are freely available on the Internet via a browser.  The Internet contains information in plain text, pdf, sounds, images and video.  Examples: government websites, conference papers, company information.  Google Scholar searches specifically for scholarly materials such as journal articles, research reports, dissertations and theses, preprints, technical reports, patents, manuscripts in preparation, working papers and many other document types.

Social Media can provide instant news faster than traditional news outlets or sources, but there is an ever increasing need to verify the accuracy of this information.  Examples: Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Discussion lists, Chat rooms.

Main Source: Virginia Tech University Libraries. Types of information sources


Using social media for research

Social media can provide instant news fast and can be a great wealth of information. How to identify credible information on social media can be challenging. Rumors and misinformation can spread quickly through social media.  Verifying information is important.  

  • Location of the source - are they in the place they are posting about?
  • Network - who is in their network and who follows them/
  • Content - can the information be corroborated from other sources?
  • Updates - do they usually post on this topic?
  • Age - what is the age of the account in question?
  • Reliability - is the source of information reliable?

Popular social media sites

Communication: Blogging: Blogger, Livejournal, TypePad, WordPress
Microblogging: Twitter, Yammer
Location: Blendr, Foursquare
Social networking:, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn
Aggregators: Feedly, Netvibes, Pageflakes, iGoogle
 Collaboration: Conferencing: Adobe Connect, GoToMeeting, Skype
Wikis: PBworks, Wetpaint, Wikia
Social bookmarking: Delicious, Diigo, BibSonomy
Social bibliography: CiteULike, Mendeley, Zotero
Social news: Digg, Reddit, Newsvine, Zite
Social documents: Google Docs, Dropbox, Zoho
Project management: Basecamp, Huddle
 Multimedia:  Art and Design: DeviantART, Tumblr
Photographs: Flickr, Instagram, Picasa, Pinterest
Video: Viddler, Vimeo, YouTube
Livestreaming:, Livestream, UStream
Presentation sharing: Prezi, LucidChart, Scribd, Slideshare, Sliderocket
Virtual worlds: OpenSim, Second Life