Source Finder

The SourceFinder Help Page

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is "SourceFinder?"

SourceFinder is an online resource that allows users to quickly and easily generate a "Source List" of important study materials.  Sources compiled when the user runs the SourceFinder may range from databases, to Web pages, to printed reference works, depending on the options the user selects.

How do I use "SourceFinder?"

It's simple. Just follow these steps:
1. Select "Field of Study"
2. Select the "Type of Resource"
3. Select any "Limits" if you want to limit your findings.
4. Click on "Search"
5. Your customized research list will be automatically generated!

What does the "Databases A to Z" link do?

The Databases A to Z link provides an up-to-date listing of all online subscription databases held by Preston Library.  It is organized alphabetically and includes descriptions of the databases VMI students, staff and faculty have access to.    

What does the "Reference Resources A to Z" link do?

This link provides a list of links to some of the more commonly used all-purpose reference sources available through Preston Library.  These resources are designed to answer frequently asked reference questions, such as weather, directional questions, statistics, and more.

What does the "Government Resources A to Z" link do?

The Government Resources link provides quick access to key print and electronic reference sources produced by the Virginia state and U.S. Federal government agencies.   

SourceFinder Options:

Field of Study

The "Field of Study" options allows you to select the area that most closely corresponds with your research topic.  Only one field of study category can be selected at a time.

Type of Resource

The "Type of Resource" option allows you to select the type or format from which you want to find information.  For example, a magazine article is very different from a handbook, which is different from a web site.

Note: You can choose as many resources as you want, or you can automatically select every type of resource available by selecting   "All Sources."  Source types are described below.

All Sources

Selecting this option automatically returns information on all types of sources described below.  Choosing "All Sources" will include the following categories in your search: articles in popular magazines, articles in scholarly journals, associations and groups, biographical information, book reviews, dictionaries, directories, encyclopedias, factbooks/handbooks/guides, literary criticism, newspaper articles, other web sites, standards and codes.

Magazine/Journal Articles

Selects resources that provide citations, abstracts or full text of articles that originally appeared in either popular magazines or scholarly journals.

Articles from popular magazines usually: are for the general reader, are interspersed with advertising, are full of photographs, are brief, and are written by staff writers or reporters. Examples of popular magazines are: Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, and National Geographic.

Articles from scholarly journals usually: are in-depth and highly specialized, have little or no advertising, deal with research or scholarly topics, include bibliographies, are longer, have few illustrations or photos (except for graphs and charts), and are written by experts in the field. Examples of scholarly journals are: Journal of Management Studies, New England Journal of Medicine, and Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Associations and Groups

Selects resources that provide information on associations and groups of all types from all countries.  Provides contact information such as: telephone numbers, mailing addresses and web page addresses.

Biographical Information

Selects resources that provide biographical information on people in all professions and from all countries.

Book Reviews

Selects resources that provide citations, abstracts or the full text of book reviews (for all types of books in all fields of study) that originally appeared in newspapers, popular magazines and scholarly journals.


Selects resources that provide definitions, pronunciations, and the history of common and not-so-common words.


Selects resources that provide directory information for people, organizations and professions.


Selects resources that provide brief but authoritative definitions and descriptions of people, places, events, concepts and principles. 


Selects resources that contain brief, all-embracing information for a discipline.  These types of resources commonly provide facts, figures, equations, conversion tables, definitions, directory information, descriptions and more.

Literary Criticism

Selects resources that provide critical analysis and discussion of literary works, themes and issues, as well as insights on the interpretation of meaning and quality of written works.  Such works include prose, poetry and drama.

Newspaper Articles

Selects resources that provide citations, abstracts or full text of articles that originally appeared in newspapers.  Includes local, state, national and international newspapers as well as trade publications and wire services.

Other Web Sites

Selects key World Wide Web resources.

Standards & Codes

Selects resources that provide citations, abstracts or full text of standards, codes and technical specifications. Standards and Codes are especially useful to those in scientific and technical fields, such as engineering.


The "Limits" option allows users to limit the types of sources based on the following:

Electronic: Online sources accessible via computer anywhere on the VMI Post.
Non-Electronic: Printed sources (books, journals or newspapers) held by Preston Library. 
Full-Text: Sources that provide full-text online (such as complete magazine & newspaper articles).

Updated, Tuesday, January 19, 2010