The Do’s & Don’ts of Finding Research Paper Sources
The foundation of any good research paper is made up of high-quality, primary sources. This resource post serves as a quick guide for finding good sources and avoiding the bad ones.
DO make sure you know how many and what kinds of sources you need for your assignment. Can all your sources be from online, or do you need sources from academic journals and books as well? Meeting the minimum source requirements is an easy way to get points on your paper.
DO use reputable sources when you’re searching online. A tip for ensuring that you find good online sources is by using URL links that end in .gov or .edu.
DO take advantage of academic journal databases. You can usually get free access to paid articles in databases like JSTOR, ProQuest, OVID, or Google Scholar with a student email address.
DO rely on your local or school library. Librarians can be helpful in your source search as they are familiar with the library contents and can direct you on where to find relevant books. Many can also offer guidance with online database or archive searches. Libraries may also have scholarly journals that you can borrow for your research.
DON’T simply use Wikipedia summaries. You will likely need to have primary sources to support your research claims. Primary sources are first-hand accounts of an event or topic. Wikipedia articles are not first-hand accounts and can be changed by anyone, so you don’t want to rely on potentially false information. Wikipedia can be a starting point for gaining a basic understanding of a topic, but follow the citations at the bottom of the page to find where the information is coming from.
DON’T use the first source you find. Keep a list of each source you find, and make sure any piece of information you plan to use is verified by a high-quality, reputable, primary source. It’s better to have multiple sources to reference, than to have too few.
DON’T just copy and paste your source URLs at the end of your paper. Make sure you understand the formatting requirements for your paper as that will likely be part of the grading criteria on your assignment. Use sources like Purdue Online Writing Lab to learn about writing styles and proper citations. You can also find online citation builders like EasyBib that can help you organize your sources properly.
Additionally, Hodis Learning & Music has expert writing tutors who can help you throughout the process of writing your research paper. If you think you might need more assistance in planning and writing a paper, contact Hodis Learning & Music here to get started with a tutor today.
Rachel is the Director of Marketing at Hodis Learning & Music. She has years of experience in marketing and public relations. Rachel is also an experienced reading, writing, English, and Spanish tutor.