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Finding Sources for Your Research Paper

Finding Sources for Your Research Paper

Author: Rebecca Oberg

This learning packet should:
-List a variety of resources available to students who are conducting research
-Differentiate between different types of sources (e.g. newspaper articles, scholarly articles, reviews, books, lectures, etc.)
-Find sources online
-Primary and secondary sources

This learning packet offers students an introduction to the sometimes daunting task of research. Through the use of images, video, helpful text, and more, students learn about the research process and the best ways to find sources. Whether just beginning a project or in the middle of major research, explore this packet to uncover new ways and resources for research and to find helpful strategies for making the most of your research time.

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Research: Finding Sources 101

This helpful and entertaining video clip offers basic information on finding quality sources when writing a research paper.

Source: YouTube

10 Tips for Choosing Good Sources for Your Research Paper

Completing an in-depth research paper at both the high school and college levels can be a stressful, daunting test. Here are 10 tips for choosing good sources for your research paper.

School research tip #1 - Choose a variety of mediums for your sources; a mixture of Internet research, professional journals, books, and newspaper articles works well.

When completing your research paper, you do not want to rely solely on one type of source. If you have a wide-variety of research material that supports your position and discredits the opposing point of view or thesis, you case will be much stronger.

School research tip #2 - Know the difference between primary and secondary sources; use as many primary sources as you can find.

Secondary resources rely heavily on the research and experiences of others while primary sources include first-hand research and experiences. Use primary sources as much as possible.

School research tip #3 - Make good use of references you might find in professional journals, books, or other articles.

Most articles in professional journals and/or peer-reviewed research publications will normally include long lists of references. Often, these references are primary sources.

School research tip #4 - Keep your research organized.

Using index cards and highlighters to organize your research efforts will help the actual writing of your paper go much more smoothly. In addition, the more organized your research, the easier it will be to compile and then present the information in a coherent manner.

School research tip #5 - Realize that you will have to go to the library at some point.

As tempted as you may be to try and do all of your research on-line, it isn̢۪t a wise decision. Breakdown and realize that you will have to go to the library at some point in order to flesh out your research.

School research tip #6 - Know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable Internet research.

Internet research can be tricky (hence the reason that you will want to include other sources as well). Acceptable Internet research includes professional on-line journals, professional on-line articles that have been peer reviewed, and information published on-line by professional organizations. You will not want to rely on sources such as blogs, commentary, and self-published articles such as this.

School research tip #7 - Severely limit your use of encyclopedias, especially your use of Internet encyclopedias such as; they should only be used in very specific circumstances.

You should only use information from encyclopedias as a way to either illustrate a point or provide the reader with information on a concept or technique that is not well known. Encyclopedias should not be used as your primary source for research, even if it did suffice in elementary school.

School research tip #8 - Know how you are to cite your sources before you begin writing your research paper.

Your teacher or professor should provide you with this information before you begin. If he or she did not provide examples, you may wish to look up that information on-line or at the library. Many librarians will be glad to help you locate additional information regarding certain techniques for citing sources.

School research tip #9 - If you can, use your search to disprove an argument against your thesis statement.

This tip should provide you with an alternative to solely locating sources that completely support your position, which isn't always easy to find. It will also prove a compelling argument for your thesis.

School research tip #10 - Always do more research than you will need for your research paper.

Most students completely stop doing research once they have located the requisite number of sources required by their instructors. This is nonsense. By doing a bit of additional research above and beyond what is required, you will be able to create a solid research paper that deserves a good grade.

Have a Question? Ask a Librarian!


AskMN is an online service for information and research help available to all Minnesota residents and students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. AskMN is a cooperative service of Minnesota libraries. Several other states have similar programs. Chat with a real media center specialist in real time, asking research questions and receiving assistance in finding helpful materials.

Using Library Databases

With nothing more than a public library card (or status as a student in a middle school, high school, or university), finding quality research for a paper is just a few clicks away. By exploring library databases, research becomes more scholarly and focused.

Source: YouTube

Primary and Secondary Sources

This informative video clip discusses primary and secondary sources, both of which are important for well-balanced research. The video discusses why both types are important in research.

Source: YouTube