How to Find Credible Sources for Research

How to Find Credible Sources for Research

The advancement of technology and easy internet access has significantly assisted most students. Currently, learners can access information on any topic of their interest, from any geographical location provided they have a secured internet connection. There is a lot of educational information on the internet. However, not all the information can be considered valid or reliable, and hence, not all websites are dependable. Most people have advanced IT skills to create websites that have attractive logos, include copyright manuals, and present their materials online. Often, the materials posted on the internet appear credible and are supported by well-known groups or organizations. In most learning institutions, and at any academic level, not every person can formulate their opinion and ideas on a particular topic. Therefore, as a student or a researcher, you will be expected to read many literature sources and refer the findings to your research topic. On the same note, students are expected to understand the available literature and thereafter form their opinion based on how they have understood what they have read.

The most common sources of information for writing academic papers include books, conference papers, and journal articles. It is important to note that a variety of other sources may be relevant to your research, such as radio programs, televisions, films, brochures, reports, and websites. Anytime an individual is writing an assignment, they are presenting an argument with their point of view. The information on what they will write will come from the different sources they have read. Therefore, the quality of the research paper will significantly depend on the source where the information was obtained. If the researcher failed to use a well-informed or accurate literature source, it will not grab the reader’s attention, and hence, it will not reach the targeted audience. On the same note, the lecturer may assume that you used the first sources you accessed, and thus you did not perform in-depth research. By choosing a good source, it means that the researcher paid attention to the author of the source where they obtained information. It also means paying attention to how and why it was written that way. Performing adequate research will aid the researcher in selecting the most reliable sources, hence improving the overall quality of their work

This means that you are expected to read many sources and refer to those sources in your writing. The most common academic sources include journal articles, conference papers, and books. However, a variety of other sources may also be relevant to your disciplines, such as websites, reports, brochures, films, and television or radio programs. When you write an assignment, you create an argument for your point of view, giving evidence for that view. The evidence that you give will come from the sources you have read. Hence, the quality of your argument will partly depend on the quality of your sources. If you fail to use an accurate or well-informed source of information, you will not score excellent grades in your examinations. Your lecturers may suspect that you used the first sources you found and assume that you do not have a good understanding of ideas related to your topic. Choosing good sources means paying attention to who wrote the information, why, and how they wrote it. To help you select the most credible sources, thereby improving the quality of your work, ask yourself the following questions when faced with print and electronic source materials.

Evaluating Sources

When evaluating the sources that you will use in writing your academic papers, you may consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is the author reputable?

For instance, you may consider asking yourself whether the author is from a research institution or is university-based.

  • The comprehensiveness of the bibliography list

For instance, does the reference list seem comprehensive when it comes to its coverage?

  • Presentation of background information

Does the author offer relevant context or background information?

  • The presentation of the research methodology

Are the research methodologies carefully presented for the reader to quickly comprehend the intended message?

  • The validity and applicability of the presented information

The researcher should check whether the information presented in the literature is applicable and valid today.

On the same note, when evaluating your sources, you may consider asking yourself the following questions:

Did the instructor or the lecturer recommend the site?

Who handles the website? Is it an institution or an individual?

Is there a correct use of spelling and grammar in the source?

Was the source recently updated?

How do you Know a Source is Credible?

With the advancement of technology, there are currently many sources of information. Therefore, students must learn to differentiate between credible and non-credible sources. Generally, the different sources of information can be classified into academic and non-scholarly sources.

Scholarly sources

Scholarly sources, which are also known as peer-reviewed, academic, or referred sources, are pieces of literature written by researchers on a specific topic. The primary objective of scholarly sources is to keep other learners who are interested in the same field up to date with the current findings, research, and news. Most electronic databases allow the user to search for peer-reviewed or scholarly articles. Often, your lecturer may tell you the various websites where you can obtain academic literature. The following are straightforward ways researchers can use in identifying scholarly articles.

  1. They use academic referencing styles such as author-date-style, endnote, and footnote.
  2. They acknowledge different sources in sufficient detail that allow the reader to access more information.
  3. They include precisely detailed information that is relatable by researchers in different fields.
  4. Scholarly sources are written by researchers who are experts in a specific area.
  5. They do not have commercial advertisements.
  6. There are no flashy graphics.
  7. They do not use everyday language. Instead, they use discipline-specific language.
  8. They are not published as often as monthly, weekly, or daily magazines.

Non-scholarly articles

The non-scholarly sources are interesting information written by an individual for entertainment purposes. The information and ideas presented in those articles are not based on research. In most cases, these kinds of articles are written for periodicals or magazines aiming to make profits, such as National Geographic, The Economist, and Time. Any person can use the following key characteristics to identify the non-scholarly articles:

  1. Most of them do not have a reference list. For the few that have references, they are not written in an orderly way.
  2. They include advertisements
  3. They are pleasing to the eye since they have a lot of pictures and colors.
  4. The information is written using a language that anyone can easily understand.
  5. They provide broad discussion on a particular topic.
  6. They are published frequently.
  7. They are not written by experts.

Evaluating the Credibility of a Source

In most cases, students receive assignments that require them to utilize credible sources of information. However, do all students understand what it means to use credible sources? The truth is that not all students can tell which sources are credible. When a reference material is described as credible, it means that the information is trustworthy and of high quality. In other words, an individual can believe what the source is informing them.

When the writer uses a quality source, they will be backing up their points, demonstrating their credibility as a writer, and making significant contributions to a particular argument’s effectiveness. Different factors contribute towards the efficacy of a source. Among them are the author’s expertise, point of view, and finally, the publication date.

Sometimes, a reader may check on the author’s credentials to determine whether a particular source is credible. Unfortunately, the credentials of a particular author may not be presented, and hence, it may difficult for the reader to determine the reliability of the source. The good thing is that there are different things to look out for apart from the author’s credentials when determining the reliability of a particular source.

Sometimes, however, the author’s credentials may not be listed, and the publication itself can be the marker of quality. This is often true for some non-scholarly publications like well-respected newspapers and magazines, where the article’s content is critically examined as part of the publication process.

The second most important element that aids in determining the credibility of a source, especially when it comes to the potential of bias. The unfair presentation of information is known as bias. Apparently, in some cases, bias could be intentional while in other instances unintentional. It is important to note that a group or an institution may influence the results of a particular study because they sponsored the entire research process. The bias may be unintentional when the researcher cannot see all sides of a specific issue.

Other times, an individual requires unbiased information to support their point or idea. On the same note, other times, a person may want to hear other people’s opinions. Although it may be difficult to detect bias, it is essential to note that it can exist in any literature piece, including the books found in the library.

It is essential to note that different articles, books, and journals go through a thorough editorial process during the publishing of academic sources. A group of scholars evaluates the quality of a particular work. The process is known as peer review when it comes to journal articles. The peer-reviewed articles are of high quality since during the review process, there is the filtering out of the sources written by biased or unqualified authors.

Lastly, it is essential to consider when a particular source was published or last updated when using any reference material. Some sources may have educative information, but you may be limited to using them because of the date they were published. The source of literature may also vary depending on the research conducted. For instance, history questions may require the researcher to utilize articles that were published several years ago. Researchers should never forget that not all credible sources will be effective for their research. Therefore, they should always be sure to evaluate the source’s credibility and trustworthiness.

List of Credible Sources for Research

Locating a reliable source when completing your assignments is not an easy task. Most students are only familiar with Google Scholar. The good thing is that there are many other credible sources that students could use effortlessly. These sources include the following:

Google Scholar

It is one of the most popular and straightforward search engines where researchers can access information on any topic of their interest. The good thing about Google Scholar is that it is free to use, and a person can look for any format.


It is an online library where researchers can access information from journals, articles, and books. Even though access is limited, researchers have a lot to gain by using the website. The sources on the website are carefully chosen before they are published, which is one of the reasons it is considered one of the most reliable databases.

Microsoft Academic

This is one of the free search engines which aids researchers in locating relevant literature using minimum efforts because of its user-friendly interface.

SAGE Publishing

The site provides an individual with open access to different academic journals. Annually, thousands of high-quality products in the form of books are posted on the website hence making it a reputable source.

Taylor and Francis Online

The website is well-known by most researchers and because of its good reputation. The website publishes peer-reviewed journal articles. It is important to note that free admission is limited, and therefore, an individual should take their time to double-check the terms first.

It is one of the most significant medical and scientific literature databases, which an individual can access with a subscription. The database has approximately over 18 million literature published there, which are all credible. For that reason, the tool can be more than reliable and efficient for any form of research.


The database is a free resource that operates almost similar to Google Scholar. An individual can research for any paper they want and download it. In some cases, the authors upload only a section of their work, and hence, an individual will need to contact the authors if they want to access the full information.


It is one of the most significant databases that offers peer-reviewed articles and journals. One of the site’s drawbacks is that they only provide the options for checking citations and abstracts for free. Unfortunately, an individual cannot access the entire content.

Importance of Using Credible Sources

Every researcher needs to utilize credible sources of information on their academic papers since the audience will expect them to base their ideas and assertions on reliable evidence. You might consider thinking about it this way if an individual visited a healthcare facility to receive advice on a particular symptom. Would you believe the diagnosis made by a healthcare practitioner if they told you that they made it based on what they heard from a stranger? The most probable response is a no. On the other hand, if you had a doctor stating that they made their diagnosis based on an article from a peer-reviewed paper obtained from a reliable source such as the Journal of the American Association, you will be inclined to believe that the diagnosis was correct. That will be the same case when you are writing a research paper. You will need to utilize credible sources of information to convince the reader that all the claims presented on the paper have been obtained from reliable sources.

How do you Find Research Sources?

  1. Identify your research paper topic
  2. Keep the purpose of work in mind
  3. Create a list of the key concepts
  4. Go to the library
  5. Make notes
  6. Consider different types of information
  7. Continue your research online
  8. Analyze and organize collected data
  9. Start writing
  10. Use the required citation format

Concluding Remarks

Resources show a clear picture of the quality of a research paper. If an individual has used low-quality sources, it goes without any reasonable doubt that the quality of their academic papers will also be compromised. An individual should pay attention to a couple of things when assessing the credibility of the sources. For instance, they should check for information that was published recently. Otherwise, a person may be using an outdated source. Secondly, you should check whether the author is well-known and whether they might have received any form of acknowledgment. It is essential to note that most of the websites owned by educational and government institutions are reliable sources of information. Apparently, if an individual is unsure, they can always check if the source is available in reliable search engines such as Google Scholar or any other academic database. Most importantly, when writing your academic paper, it is always important to read the instructions carefully. The chances are high that the lecture will provide instructions on the kind of sources to be used.