Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Occupational Therapy Subject Guide

An Academic Librarian guide for students

Types of information

Different resources are useful for different things and it is important to consider the quality and validity of the source if you are going to use it. More information on evaluating information is available on this site. 

Books – For background information and theories, look for books on NELSON. Books tend to be an overview of a topic, with chapters on different areas. You do not need to read a book from cover to cover, you may prefer to just read one or two chapters on a relevant subject area.

Journal articles are useful for current research and discussions on the topic area. They tend to look at a specific subject in depth. There may be some key journals that your tutor recommends for your subject area, that you can look at regularly to see what is currently being explored and debated.

Newspapers provide opinions and general information on topics. Newspapers tend to have a political slant or bias and can be seen to sensationalise current issues. These are not always useful for academic assignments, however you may be asked to include opinion based pieces in your assignment, so check your module guide for what type of information is preferred.

Websites – use websites with care and make sure they are a reliable source. Have a look at evaluating information for more guidance.

Grey literature – The term grey literature is used to refer to research that has not been published, or has been published but not commercially (e.g. policy documents, conference proceedings or dissertations/theses). It can be useful to understand research developments in a subject area.

Search Criteria

You may also want to consider if there are any specific requirements for the type of information you use. These search criteria may help you to focus your search and direct you to the best resource for the information you need. Below are some questions you may find useful to help guide your searching:

  • Language: Do you need English literature/research?
  • Geography: Does it matter what country the information refers to?
  • Type of source: Is it aimed at the right level? For example, is it written for an academic audience? Does that matter?
    • Do you need practitioner or academic sources?
    • Do you need specific policy or statistics?
    • The majority of your assignments will require rigorous academic sources that have been peer reviewed.
  • Date: How old is it? Does it reflect current research evidence? Is it a contemporary source for the period?