Research Paper Sources
Research Paper Sources are the heart of any good research project.
The heart of a research paper is the “research”. This research is based upon source material that makes your argument credible. The sources that you use are expert articles and publications on your topic that prove your thesis or a statement you have made.
The sources you choose for your research paper are going to determine the quality of your research paper. A professor can look at the bibliography or works cited page and determine how much effort you put into the project and whether or not you understand the material without even reading one word of what you’ve written! Therefore, understanding what makes a good source, a bad source or an ugly source is essential!
Appropriate Research Paper Sources:
- Nonfiction books
- Academic Journal Articles
- Peer reviewed professional publications
- Research-based material from university web sites
- Primary sources
- .gov and .org websites.
- Newspaper editorial columns
- Magazine articles
- Unsupported web sites
- Academic papers that have not been subjected to peer review
Evaluating the Research Paper Sources You’ve Chosen
A complete and accurate list of references must be included with every research paper.
Ask yourself questions like these about each book or article you include:
- Has the author formulated a problem/issue?
Meaning, is the goal of the source clearly outlined and does the author add to your knowledge of the topic?
- Is it clearly defined? Is its significance (scope, severity, relevance) clearly established?
Has the author taken the proper steps to insure that the research is significant and has a clear purpose.
- Could the problem have been approached more effectively from another perspective?
Is this really the best way to approach the topic?
- What is the author’s research orientation (e.g., interpretive, critical science, combination)?
This helps you see if the research is valid and supports your hypothesis from the correct perspective. For example, if you are writing a psychological thesis, you do not want an article that is interpretive.
- What is the author’s theoretical framework (e.g., psychological, developmental, feminist)?
Do a little research on the author and make certain that his/her research is legitimate and not tainted by personal bias. For example, a psychology article by Camille Paglia is going to be feminist biased because she is a psychologist but also a radical feminist. Generally this is not a good idea for academic research source material.
- What is the relationship between the theoretical and research perspectives?
- Has the author evaluated the literature relevant to the problem/issue?
Does the author include literature taking positions she or he does not agree with?
- In a research study, how good are the basic components of the study design (e.g., population, intervention, outcome)?
How accurate and valid are the measurements? Is the analysis of the data accurate and relevant to the research question? Are the conclusions validly based upon the data and analysis?
- In material written for a popular readership, does the author use appeals to emotion, one-sided examples, or rhetorically-charged language and tone?
Is there an objective basis to the reasoning, or is the author merely “proving” what he or she already believes?
- How does the author structure the argument?
Can you “deconstruct” the flow of the argument to see whether or where it breaks down logically (e.g., in establishing cause-effect relationships)? In what ways does this book or article contribute to our understanding of the problem under study, and in what ways is it useful for practice? What are the strengths and limitations?
- How does this book or article relate to the specific thesis or question I am developing?
Here is Paper Masters’ awesome list of academic resource locations that can be found on the Internet:
- EBSCOHost – The best place to find academic sources. Each university has access to EBSCOHost and students are given access through their University Library free of charge. Your University Library Website will show you how to access EBSCOHost. In many cases, you need look no further than EBSCOHost for the sources you need to write a great research paper.
- Google Scholar - Google scholar is a repository of academic articles and books that Google offers free of charge. Not all articles are fully accessible; however, a majority of them are and the list is growing longer every day.
- Google Books – Google Books is outstanding and many full text textbooks and non-fiction books can be accessed for free here.
- Directory of Open Access Journals – Free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals, covering all subjects and many languages.
Related Research Paper Topic Suggestions
Apa Style Citation - APA format is the standard citation method for the Social Sciences. View the complete etext of the APA style manual and learn how to cite properly in APA format.
Chicago Turabian Style Citation - Chicago or Turabian Style citation is used in research papers at the college level for bibliographies and works cited.
Citation in a Research Paper - Citation of custom research papers in MLA APA or Chicago Turabian style is standard in all research papers written by Paper Masters.
Harvard Style Referencing - Harvard Referencing is a frequently used citation method, similar to APA style, used by University students.
How to Write an Abstract - Paper Masters teaches students how to write an abstract for a research paper or report. Abstracts are either informational abstracts or descriptive abstracts that show at least the purpose, methods and scope of a project.
MLA Citation - MLA is a common citation style for referencing in Undergraduate research papers. Paper Masters shows you how to write MLA research projects.
Organizing Research - Paper Masters illustrates how to organize your research paper sources into an outline that will help your research paper flow right off your fingertips.
Peer Reviewed Articles - Custom Peer Reviewed Articles are available at Paper Masters. Get help on any peer reviewed article you need.
Peer Reviewed Journals - Peer Reviewed Journals research papers discuss the academic publications that present articles of new research, review articles, and book reviews.
Primary Source - A primary source for a paper is any material used for research that is considered to be an original document.
Research Paper Conclusion - A conclusion contains a summary of your research paper along with several other important elements of research writing.
Research Paper Introduction - The introduction is often the hardest part of any research paper.
Scholarly Articles - Scholarly Articles are written research papers written by experts in a specific field that collegiate level professors usually require students to use when conducting their own research paper.
Scholarly Journals - Scholarly Journals are largely written by academic experts for academics and are great sources for students to use academic research.
Theme within a Research Paper - Using a theme within a research paper is important in creating a cohesive project.
Thesis Statement - Paper Masters understands the elements of a proper thesis statement in a research paper. Learn from the experts how to write a thesis statement.