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How can I find good sources for my research paper?

Three Types of Resources

❶Most magazine and journal articles are referenced in either an index or an abstract.

University of Louisville Writing Center

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Be sure to tell a reference librarian what you are working on, and ask her advice on whether or not there is information available on CDROM or through a specialized database. Government documents are currently available on CDROM and often offer updated information census data, for example. The reference librarian can tell you which CDs might be the most helpful and can help you sign them out and use them. There are many specialized databases.

Some examples are ERIC, the educational database, and Silver Platter, which offers texts of recent articles in particular subjects yep, the whole article is available right through the computer, which is often less time-consuming than looking through the stacks for it The American Psychological Association has the titles of articles on specific subjects psychology, sociology, etc.

Sociofile is another example. Ask your reference librarian to see exactly what is available. One good thing about specialized databases is that you already know the source and orientation of the article. You also know that the source is a valid and reputable one. You will need the reference librarian's help getting into specialized databases--most libraries require that the databases have passwords.

Bring your own paper if you plan on doing this type of research! Many libraries allow you to print from the databases, but you must supply your own paper.

Internet research is another popular option these days. You can research from home if you have internet search capabilities, or you usually can research from the library. Most libraries have internet connections on at least a few computers, although sometimes you need to sign up for them in advance. Even if there doesn't seem to be much of a crowd around, be sure to sign up on the sheet so that you don't have someone come along and try to take your spot.

Internet research can be very rewarding, but it also has its drawbacks. Many libraries have set their computers on a particular search engine, or a service that will conduct the research for you. Internet research can be time consuming. You will need to search much the way you would on the library database computers--simply type in key words or authors or titles, and see what the computer comes up with.

Then you will have to read through the list of choices that you are given and see if any of them match what you think you are looking for. There are a lot of resources on the internet that are not going to be valuable to you. Part of your internet research will include evaluating the resources that you find. Personal web pages are NOT a good source to go by--they often have incorrect information on them and can be very misleading. Be sure that your internet information is from a recognized source such as the government, an agency that you are sure is a credible source the Greenpeace web page, for example, or the web page for the National Institute of Health , or a credible news source CBS, NBC, and ABC all have web pages.

A rule of thumb when doing internet research: One good source to help you determine the credibility of online information is available from UCLA: Check out the Content and Evaluation and Sources and Data sections. Taking notes is an important part of doing research. Be sure when you take notes that you write down the source that they are from! One way of keeping track is to make yourself a "master list"--a number list of all of the sources that you have. Then, as you are writing down notes, you can just write down the number of that source.

A good place to write notes down is on note cards. This way you can take the note cards and organize them later according to the way you want to organize your paper. While taking notes, also be sure to write down the page number of the information.

You will need this later on when you are writing your paper. Any time that you use information that is not what is considered "common knowledge," you must acknowledge your source. For example, when you paraphrase or quote, you need to indicate to your reader that you got the information from somewhere else. This scholarly practice allows your reader to follow up that source to get more information.

You must create what is called a citation in order to acknowledge someone else's ideas. You use parentheses in your text, and inside the parentheses you put the author's name and the page number there are several different ways of doing this.

You should look at your course guide carefully to determine which format you should be using. Check out more specific information on how to document sources. Using sources to support your ideas is one characteristic of the research paper that sets it apart from personal and creative writing. Sources come in many forms, such as magazine and journal articles, books, newspapers, videos, films, computer discussion groups, surveys, or interviews.

The trick is to find and then match appropriate, valid sources to your own ideas. But where do you go to obtain these sources? For college research papers, you will need to use sources available in academic libraries college or university libraries as opposed to public libraries. Here you will find journals and other texts that go into more depth in a discipline and are therefore more appropriate for college research than those sources written for the general public.

Some, though not all, of these sources are now in electronic format, and may be accessible outside of the library using a computer. Primary sources are original, first-hand documents such as creative works, research studies, diaries and letters, or interviews you conduct. Secondary sources are comments about primary sources such as analyses of creative work or original research, or historical interpretations of diaries and letters.

You can use a combination of primary and secondary sources to answer your research question, depending on the question and the type of sources it requires. If you're writing a paper on the reasons for a certain personality disorder, you may read an account written by a person with that personality disorder, a case study by a psychiatrist, and a textbook that summarizes a number of case studies.

The first-hand account and the psychiatrist's case study are primary sources, written by people who have directly experienced or observed the situation themselves. The textbook is a secondary source, one step removed from the original experience or observation. For example, if you asked what the sea symbolized in Hemingway's story "The Old Man and the Sea," you'd need to consult the story as a primary source and critics' interpretations of the story as a secondary source.

An on-line catalog has replaced card catalogs in many libraries as a means of listing and indexing what is in the library. You use an on-line catalog the same way you use a card catalog: So don't feel intimidated if you haven't yet searched on-line; anyway, the directions are right on the screen. Most of the searches that you do for a research paper will be subject searches, unless you already know enough about the field to know some standard sources by author or title.

When using an on-line catalog or a card catalog, make sure to jot down the source's name, title, place of publication, publication date, and any other relevant bibliographic information that you will need later on if you choose to use the source in your research paper. Also remember to record the call number, which is the number you use to find the item in the library. Magazines are written for the general public, so they contain articles that do not present a subject in depth. Journals are written by and for professionals in various fields and will provide you with in-depth, specific information.

Your professors will expect you to use some journals; in fact, the more advanced your courses are, the more you should be using journal articles in your research as opposed to magazine articles.

How do you find articles to answer your research question? It's inefficient to go through volumes of magazines and journals, even if you could think of appropriate ones.

Most magazine and journal articles are referenced in either an index or an abstract. An index lists magazine or journal articles by subject. Find the correct subject heading or keyword to search for articles. Write down all the information for each article. Check the index's abbreviation key if you can't understand the abbreviations in the entry. Make sure to write down all of the entry's information so you can find the article IF your library carries the magazine or journal.

If not, you can use the information to request the article through interlibrary loan. Specific indices the "correct" plural of index exist for journals in just about every field of study Business Index, Social Science Index, General Science Index, Education Index, and many more , while there's only one major index to general interest magazines The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. Many libraries have many of these indices on their on-line systems; check with the reference librarian if you have a question about indices available on-line.

Books can be found on your school or public library website. Type in keywords related to your topic in the search field, and see what kinds of literature comes up. Write down the call number of the book so that you can find it within your library. Google has another service, Google Books, that will help you find books related to your topic. Just type your research topic into the field and Google Books will provide you with a list of relevant books.

Once you click on a book you like, Google Books will give you a preview of the book and information related to buying the book or finding it in your library. The trick is to weed out the unreliable information. They help people with a lot of things shopping, searching for flights, comparing restaurants. The LibGuides at Rice University is one example. As far as research is concerned, Google is a double-edged sword. Those may be two separate things.

It provides a great deal of relevant information in a very fast manner, but that information is not necessarily credible. Content on Wikipedia can be edited by anyone—not necessarily an expert or credible author. We also know how and when to refer you for a follow-up appointment with the Reference Assistance and Instruction department.

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How can I find good sources for my research paper?


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The dreaded research paper can leave many wondering where to go for information. With the Internet being so accessible, it might be tempting to type words into Google and use whatever comes up first. You may get lucky and get great sources, or you may get stuck with less credible sites that leave your professor wondering where you got such information.

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Collecting sources for a research paper can sometimes be a daunting task. When beginning your research, it’s often a good idea to begin with common search engines, like Google, and general descriptions like you can find on Wikipedia. Often though these are not the sources .

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– Tell one of these people your research topic and ask them to point you towards useful sources. Chances are that they know more about what’s available about your particular topic than you do. Depending on the size of your school, you may have a subject area librarian for the particular type of research you are doing. What makes a research source good or bad? When conducting research, you should avoid any source that contains opinion or fiction.

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Secondary sources are those that describe or analyze primary sources, including: reference materials – dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks, and books and articles that interpret, review, or sythesize original research/fieldwork. Learn about all the different source types and when they are appropriate and helpful to you in the research process: encyclopedias, Wikipedia, books, scholarly articles, popular articles and magazines, trade magazines, news, and websites!