If you are aiming to learn how to find sources for a research paper, you are in the right place. Regardless if you are writing your college research paper for some Business Management course or ER Nursing reflective research paper, the presence of reliable sources will help you make your paper credible. The aim of any research paper is to provide a certain synthesis of similar works with your analysis. When you have no sources, your paper will not reach a scientific objective and will make your audience question the validity of your arguments. The tricky part is to know how to find the best sources and check their reliability.
The Types of Research Paper Sources
Dealing with research paper writing, you will encounter three main types of academic sources that are equally important, yet different by their purpose.
- Primary Sources. They represent so-called raw data or information that does not include someone else's analysis or additional research. The most frequent examples include interviews, governmental documents, poetry, movies, social media posts, court records, old-time newspapers, and diaries.
- Secondary Sources. These are most frequently encountered in college research papers as they relate to scientific articles, books, textbook analysis reviews, and dictionaries. This type of source offers analysis and interpretation, which is why it is called "a secondary".
- Tertiary Sources. They are used for the analysis and compilation of both primary and secondary resources. Reference materials and textbooks often relate to tertiary sources. As a rule, such sources represent a synthesis of information and are not credited to a particular individual. Some examples include dictionaries, Wikipedia, manuals, abstracts, and technical leaflets.
As you are finding sources for research papers, you will encounter various types that will differ and have their importance for your research assignment type. Some of the most frequent research paper references include:
- Scholarly Publications That Include Scientific Journals.
It is the most popular type of research paper source these days since we are dealing with journal articles in various fields. For example, you may encounter Psychology Today or Mechanical Engineering journals with a plethora of scientific articles with original research or case studies. Remember that these publications must have "peer-reviewed" mentioning next to them. It is what the majority of research paper grading rubrics require. Basically, it means that the references that you mention have been reviewed by your fellow scholars before the article can be accepted for publication. It will help you to avoid fake publications or those research papers that are not strong enough.
- Popular Scientific Sources That May Include News & Magazines.
These include articles that have been written by journalists or professional guest writers that aim at the general audience. In other words, these are not penned by researchers, yet still represent acceptable research paper resources. The language is also easier for understanding, which might be good for research paper reviews when you need to include some references. Even though it is not an expert's knowledge on some subject, they are good when you need the general objective dealing with your topic.
- Professional or Trade Scientific Sources.
For example, these research paper sources are meant for practitioners. They are mostly specific, yet are not too complex. It is good when you need to read about the latest news or explore famous case studies. Additionally, if you are an Engineer or deal with any other academic field, you will encounter specific jargon.
- Books (Both In Print & Digital Versions).
It is good for placing a quote when you discover an interesting argument! Do your reading and make sure that you look up your book’s ISBN. It is easy to enter it online to see all the popular quotations in APA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA, or any other academic writing style.
- Conferences Compilations.
While these might be not so common, it is good to discover compilations of papers that represent scientific conferences. It is not always peer-reviewed, and you must be careful. In certain cases, these conferences will usually be the first-hand publication of some data before everything appears in a scholarly journal. If your university grants you access to scientific conferences, you should check available databases first. For example, you can check by the latest date in a scientific database like PubMed and see what conferences have taken place lately. Even though these are like news reports, they can be helpful to make your paper sound credible.
- Government Documents.
For example, you may access federal depository libraries that include archives of the Government Printing Office databases. If your university already provides you with special access, you can check various laws and reports. It is also good to access statistical data, white papers, transcripts of court hearings, and case studies. You must always include every reference that you find for your quote and do not forget that government documents are always lengthy and complex.
- Various Theses & Dissertations.
It is also possible to include research papers that relate to the work of individual students. Since these are written with the help and academic guidance of a scientific committee, they can be used as reliable sources for research. Do not forget that these are not approached as "peer-reviewed" since they are not yet published and reviewed by the academic community.
Note: Do your best to avoid those sources that you cannot verify in terms of being the primary reference. If you have some book with ISBN or DOI reference, choose the latest resource that has the original date and the largest amount of relevant data that must be included.
5 Tips For Finding Good Sources For Research Papers
Of course, when you are looking for reliable research sources, you must know what will be helpful and what must be avoided (like Wikipedia). The reason why such databases are not acceptable is the lack of peer-reviewed elements and the possibility of an average person bringing in certain edits.
Here is the list of tips to follow:
- Do a Simple Search Engine Run. Start by turning to Google or Bing with your basic search string related to your topic to see what comes up. You may never know what you may discover.
- Use Online Scholarly Databases. For example, you can use PubMed, JStor, EBSCO, or ScienceMag (AAAS). These will provide you with access to thousands of different research papers and articles based on your keywords. Once you discover something that interests you, look at the Abstract page with the keywords that are clickable and proceed from there.
- Check Available Newspapers & Magazines. It is also important to check various newspapers like Boston Herald and New York Times. You can also check magazines like Time and Forbes where you can discover certain subjects that deal with anything from medicine to social media marketing. While newspapers are not scientific per se, these are usually good enough to provide interesting information since they are written by skilled journalists.
- Visit Your Local Library. Remember that you can always check your local college’s library. This aspect is often ignored as the majority of students browse the web for hours without finding anything reliable. Taking a look at your local library or talking to your academic advisor regarding good possibilities, you will save time and discover those resources that have already been picked precisely for your course. It does not even have to be MIT or Harvard. Almost every academic library will grant access to the world’s best databases.
- Add "PDF" to Your Search String. Finally, you can add keywords like “PDF”, “Analysis” or “research paper” to your original search query. It will help you to sort search results as you will get direct links to PDF files that will usually contain scientific articles or various reports. It will make it possible to avoid blogs and web pages that do not relate to scientific or peer-reviewed resources.
When you find certain academic resources for research papers, always study included Bibliography or includes References pages. It may help you see relevant sources.
What Makes a Source Credible?
The source is credible when it provides full information regarding authors or organization, year of publication, and all relevant information. It must be unbiased and provide supporting evidence that helps explain concepts or ideas explored in a research paper.
List of Reliable Sources For Research Papers
Here is the list of the best academic resources archives that will be helpful:
- Scopus. Powered by Elsevier, it covers about 71 million items and a wide range of academic disciplines. It has a great search engine based on keywords.
- Web of Science. It is one of the largest bibliographic databases. The best part about it is that it is possible to access research sources free of charge. It is also powered by the Clarivate of the Thomson Reuters fame.
- PubMed. When you are majoring in Nursing, Healthcare Administration, Biology, or Chemistry, PubMed is one of the best databases that has both free and paid articles. Powered by NIH, it has about 30 million items.
- ERIC. It is created by the U.S. Department of Education with a focus on Education and Sociology articles. It is the best resource for teachers.
- IEEE Xplore. It is one of the best academic databases for students majoring in Engineering and Computer Science. It also includes the latest conference papers and books that one can search for. It provides free access to over 5 million items. Powered by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, it has all the right sources that will be accepted by your college professor.
- ScienceDirect. Also provided by Elsevier (free access), it offers access to multidisciplinary articles. It has over 2,500 journals and over 40,000 electronic publications that can be accessed in book format. Even though it has no citation references, it has DOI and database numbers.
- Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). It is a great collection of open journals, which means that it does not have any commercial access publications. You can look through 4.3 million items that vary from English Literature and Psychology to Criminal Sciences and Programming. If you want to access rare publications that are not so common, it is the best choice.
- JStor. The best part about the JSTOR database is that it stores articles that have been published before 1924 (sourced by the National Archive of the United States). It’s available free of charge and has relevant citation information.
When you are buying a research paper, you should always consider specifying the types of sources for a research paper. If you are writing a dissertation or your final course paper, the list of required references will differ. The trick is to keep the right balance between plagiarism risks and the reliability of your writing. For example, if you use any external information, it must be credited. The same relates to YouTube links, pictures, or anything that does not represent your unique ideas.
Why Finding Quality Sources Matters?
When you already have your thesis statement, the most important is to make a list of credible sources for research. If you are stuck or do not know how to format a research paper, you can turn to our skilled writers anytime. When you need just a little bit of professional academic help, you should not hesitate. When you have good sources, you also learn how to avoid plagiarism and know how to cite every source accordingly. Do not let your academic future shake when you can place an order with a reliable writer without breaking the bank!