How to select good sources when writing a term paper

Writing a term paper is a process of research, planning, and arguing in coherent and convincing prose. One of the ways that an argument is made more convincing, is by being supported by relevant and reputable evidence, taken from acknowledged sources within your field. But, there are so many ways to go about finding sources, how do you ensure that you are selecting good sources for your term paper?

  1. Tutor
  2. Your first port of call when looking for appropriate and well-regarded sources should be your tutor. Always ask your tutor about thinkers, writers, books, and papers that are the must-reads, the ‘seminal’ works in whatever subject you are researching. Remember, you do not need lots of sources, just a few very precise and relevant ones.

  3. Library
  4. Any library in today’s educational institutions will have an e-search facility. So, simply type in the area of research, and take some time going through the results to find appropriate books. If possible, stick to books that are published by established and well-regarded university presses, such as Johns Hopkins, Yale, MIT, and Oxford.

  5. Online Databases
  6. Online journal databases, such as jstor, can provide instant searches and access to thousands of appropriate sources. The real benefit is that you can perform a very specific search, reducing research time with no loss of accuracy. Take some time to learn how to best use the advanced search option, as this time will be rewarded in the long run.

  7. References from Other Papers
  8. When you have found a few relevant papers, you need simply to look at the references in that paper, to other papers which deal with your subject, and which this author has deemed citable, and so of value. You can do this indefinitely, getting right to the heart of your field by chasing down references.

  9. Google Scholar
  10. GS is an excellent source of citations and papers. The great thing is that Google lets you know how many citations a paper has received, and this can give you an idea of how important a paper is seen to be in that field. This saves a huge amount of research.

There are many, many ways to come across appropriate sources. But, this list provides a good guide to finding reputable, cited, well-regarded references, and that is what research is about.

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