How To Find Good Sources For Research

Knowing how to find good sources for research is a vital skill to have, not just in academic life, but throughout all aspects of our lives.

The world is full of unreliable sources. People can create stories to push their own agendas. Without the means or the skills to work out what’s real and trustworthy and what could be fake, we could find ourselves caught up in a web of lies and misinformation.

In this guide, we look at some of the most effective ways to find good, reliable sources for research.

A Word Of Caution On Good Sources For Research

The first place many students think to look is often Wikipedia. It comes up fairly close to the top of many Google searches, so this is what many people begin with. However, citing a Wikipedia article as a source can get students into a lot of trouble.

Wikipedia is a site that anyone can edit whenever they feel like it. It is often checked, but a person can never know when the information seen there is 100 per cent correct. This means that it’s not a site that should be used as a source for research.

The best way to utilize Wikipedia is to use it as a gateway to find legitimate sources. Using the information gathered there, you can find journal articles, newspaper articles, official websites and books that have some backing to them.

Another source that people tend to rely heavily on is an encyclopedia, like Britannica. Whether it’s in print form or online, encyclopedias should not be used as sources. While they are scholarly, they are typically not detailed works. There are better-detailed sources out there that could be used instead.

how to find good sources for research

Getting Help With Research Papers

The massive amount of information flooding students today can be overwhelming, especially when writing a research paper. A lengthy research paper can be a daunting task for students of all ages. 

Even in college, writing papers can be overwhelming and lead to long, stress-filled nights. To combat this, some turn to expert writers for research papers. These professionals can provide invaluable assistance, helping to alleviate some of the anxiety by using great sources that have credibility with the teacher or professor.

Leveraging their expertise and skills, they can transform an overwhelming task into a manageable one, ensuring you deliver a well-researched and well-written paper.

How To Find Good Sources For Research

Here are a few pointers to guide you from the early stages of research to discovering reliable and valuable sources:

  • Compile a list of relevant research terms that you can employ when searching through library resources or online platforms. Begin with your core list, and as you delve deeper into your research, take note of additional keywords and phrases that catch your attention.
  • Keep an eye out for sources with “tags” or descriptors. These tags can be incorporated into your list of search terms and may lead you to related sources. In some cases, these tags are clickable links that direct you to lists of similar resources.
  • Consider the requirements of your assignment and the type of sources that are deemed suitable for your specific question or topic. Many library search engines and databases offer options to filter results to include only “peer-reviewed” or “scholarly” sources. These sources undergo review by experts in the field before publication.
  • When assessing the quality of a source, it is essential to align it with the nature of your inquiry. For instance, if you are examining the common understanding of a term, dictionaries or Wikipedia may be considered reliable sources. Conversely, if your argument pertains to advancements in psychological research, prioritizing peer-reviewed or scholarly sources becomes crucial.
  • Review the works cited or bibliography section of sources that have already proven helpful to you. The sources they have referenced are likely to be beneficial for your own research. Some search engines, such as Google Scholar, offer a “Cited by” link beneath a source, which generates a list of other publications that have cited the source you are examining. It is important to note that while Google Scholar is a valuable starting point, the quality of its results may vary depending on the subject area and other factors.

Examples Of Good Online Sources For Research

Typically, many online resources that come from scholarly sources are good places to get information. For example, through many public and university libraries, people can gain access to sites that often have:

  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • First-person accounts
  • Essays by academics
  • Newspaper archives (Such as the Washington Post or New York Times Archives)

Along with that, people and places’ official sites are often legitimate sources if they contain new or useful information pertinent to the topic being researched. For instance, if one was researching President Gerald Ford, going to his museum’s website would be a good place to get some information on him and where he grew up.

Prioritise Reliable Print Sources

Books on the topic are great for research. They often contain indexes that determine whether they will be useful without having to read the entire text. Historical texts, biographies, and scholarly studies are often available at public libraries. Asking the library staff for help finding a particular item should never be a problem, either.

Finding historical documents or using the online system should be something the librarians are more than willing to help students access. Let’s look at some specific examples of print sources.

Academic Journals

Academic journals are often seen as the pinnacle of sources for academic research. These publications contain articles that have undergone a rigorous process of peer review, where other experts in the field scrutinize the methods, conclusions, and overall validity of the work. This ensures that the information presented is reliable, and accurate, and contributes to the existing body of knowledge in that area of study.

reliable research sources


Books, particularly those published by established and reputable publishers, can offer comprehensive analysis and perspectives on a wide range of topics. They are written by subject-matter experts who have spent considerable time researching and understanding the nuances of the topic. However, due to the rapid pace of advancements in certain fields like technology or medicine, it’s crucial to check the publication date to ensure the information is still relevant and up-to-date.

Government Publications

Government websites, reports, and statistics are highly reliable sources of data because they are typically produced by experts in the field and undergo strict review processes. These sources often provide detailed, authoritative information and can be particularly useful for obtaining demographic data, economic indicators, health statistics, and more.

Reputable News Outlets

Reputable news outlets such as The New York Times, BBC, or The Guardian are valuable sources for the most recent developments and current events. Journalists at these outlets adhere to high journalistic standards, ensuring the information is accurate and trustworthy.

Always Cite Your Sources

When writing a research paper, keep in mind that any information that is found is probably someone else’s discovery. For instance, if today, a student is writing about the American Civil War, chances are they were not there to experience it. So, when you’re writing up your research paper, it’s important to spend lots of time editing, ensuring your sources have been correctly cited and that your prose writing shines. 

In that way, it is incredibly important to cite any sources that are used. It is one of the most important writing tools. This includes quotes from articles or books, online sources, pictures, and documents. Today’s teachers are very able to check sources’ legitimacy. They are also clever enough to know when work has been copied and plagiarized.

Final Things to Remember When Writing a Research Paper

Students should always ensure that they use good sources. They give writing credibility. This could include valid sources such as newspaper archives (both online and print), books, and good, credible websites. Plagiarized work is a taboo, and is unacceptable in academic settings, as well as in business.

For more advice on how to find good sources for research, please get in touch, or see some of the guides below:


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