A research paper is one of the most important forms of academic writing in higher learning. The paper contains in-depth arguments supporting a hypothesis. In research paper writing, you need to support your arguments using writings by other scholars and from other sources.

It adds credibility to your study and makes the findings generalizable. Most students find research papers daunting, but if you understand the basics, you can ace your project.

One of the aspects you need to master when writing your research project is how to find reliable sources. Many students start with a great topic and thesis but fail to augment their ideas with material from credible sources. It leads to shallow arguments, unconvincing findings, and poor recommendations.

This guide offers essential tips to help you find the best sources to refine your paper.

Understand The Project Guidelines

Most students rush to start writing, and in the process, miss important instructions in the paper guidelines. Every college has unique paper writing guidelines. Your professor will highlight these in the research project instructions. Failure to follow these guidelines can lead to the wrong use of research resources.

Learn About Different Research Paper Sources

College students should take time to explore different sources of information for their research projects. These include primary sources (surveys, poems, fieldwork or research papers, court records, diaries, interviews, as well as) and secondary sources (an analysis or description of any of the primary sources such as articles, books, etc.).

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Identify Your Research Topic

You can only determine the best sources for your study after identifying the topic. Some subjects will require you to go to the field for raw data.

Other topics will only require secondary sources from the library or online resources. With the topic in mind, it is easier to know where to search for research materials.

Have a purpose for your research paper

You can only find the best research materials for your paper if you know what you want to achieve. Most students handle these projects for the sake of the grade, and inevitably, they have a hard time researching. After identifying the topic, define the purpose of your paper, and you will find it easier to find relevant sources.

Don’t Ignore the Library

When was the last time you went to the school library? Many students now spend months without stepping foot in the library. The reason is that research is now easier, with a plethora of online resources.

However, if you want to boost your study, the library should be the first place to visit. You will find incredible books and other materials which will augment your research.

Use a Mix of Research Sources

In this digital age, you can easily find information online, but this is not enough for your study. You should aim for a mix of reliable sources, including Internet sources, professional journals, books, websites, and newspaper articles, and other publications. Such a mixture of sources adds a sense of originality to your work.

Create A Shortlist Of Sources

As you continue your research, it is important to note down all the details of the sources you use. When creating your paper’s outline, this shortlist will come in handy as you decide what to use.

Many students struggle with research because they don’t note down their sources. They end up grappling with nice ideas but without any way to use them as citations.

Go For The Most Authoritative Sources

After comparing different sources in your shortlist, you have to make a tough decision on what to use and what to omit. Your decision should be based on the authority of the source.

Journals and books rate highly when it comes to supporting research ideas. These should be your main source of information.

Follow Citations To Get Primary Sources

Take a topic like the Great Depression. You will find many secondary sources online. However, you can set your paper apart from those of other students by going further and finding the primary sources. These include actual research papers on the topic, surveys, and industry reports, among other sources.

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Pick Sources That Support Your Argument

Your research paper should be concise and precise. You have to avoid long-winding arguments by finding sources that underpin your thesis. This makes it easier to convince the reader about your proposition.

Don’t Rely On Encyclopedias

While information is readily available in encyclopedias, these don’t form part of the reliable sources. You should limit the use of these sources, especially online-based encyclopedias. They have a lot of errors and editing issues, which might lead to plagiarism problems in your essay.

Make search engines your friend

Google, Bing, Yahoo have emerged as the major tools of research, and you have to leverage them when looking for sources.

If you have a topic but no idea where to find sources, Google provides a good answer. Google dominates the search engine market with a 90.46% market share worldwide. It is your first port of call when looking for credible research sources.

Look For Fresh Research Sources

When doing your research, it is important to consider the age of the resources you use. Some of the information available in some sources is not relevant. You should look for fresh and relevant information that will help build a case for your paper.

Learn The Citation Style Before Writing

After finding different sources for your paper, you have to learn how to cite them. Your professor will provide the necessary citing guidelines, and you have to follow these strictly.

Analyze And Organize Your Ideas

During the research, all your ideas should go to your notebook. These ideas should also include a list of references.

After completing your study, analyze these ideas and cut the sources that don’t add value to your paper. Where necessary, go back to the source and confirm the ideas before including them in your paper.

Final Thoughts

Writing a research paper is not easy, but if you find the right sources, you can ace the task. Make sure you identify relevant, credible, and reliable sources to underpin your arguments. Use a mix of available sources to gather ideas and make sure you adhere to the project’s citation guidelines.

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