The Internet makes finding information on any research topic in your field easier. However, some information acquired does not meet the threshold for quality and validity to be featured in academic bibliographies. Researchers and students must use credible scholarly sources to support claims and arguments in their publications and assignments. This article provides tips and tricks for obtaining credible scholarly sources, with specific examples of how and where to go about the process.
Schools (read instructors) often ask students to consider library databases to research credible scholarly sources to use in the assignments. Library databases are run by learning institutions, journals, or publishers and consist of a wide collection of books, original research manuscripts, scholarly articles, and other carefully curated academic resources. These online databases enable the researchers access to a huge volume of peer-reviewed, current, valid, and credible scholarly sources on various topics.
The main benefit of using library databases is that the content is pre-screened for quality and relevance. This allows the researchers only to obtain reliable and credible sources within a short time than one can be browsing the Internet. Another benefit of a library database is that the researcher can easily sort the data using keywords, search phrases, publishing dates, or relevance.
The researcher must often provide an institution’s credentials to access library databases. Schools collaborate with major databases that enable students to use these resources without incurring extra costs. However, some are open source meaning anyone can access credible scholarly sources, while others are subscription-based.
Examples of online library databases include Scopus, Academic Search Complete, JSTOR, and ProQuest. These databases provide scientific, humanities, science and engineering, humanities, and social sciences, among other academic disciplines.
Google Scholar is one of my favorite tools for acquiring credible scholarly sources. First, Google scholar is a collection of academic articles, books, studies, conference papers, and other resources. One benefit is that Google scholar is a free tool and provides millions of records to researchers who need to find credible scholarly sources quickly and easily.
Google scholar’s user interface is clear and incredibly easy to use. You simply provide search phrases or terms into the search box, click enter, and Google scholar will return records matching your query. The results are sorted by relevance by default, meaning scholarly sources closer to your search phrases come first. Further, you can view the first few lines of the article/abstract or open the full text, enabling you to assess how helpful the resource is in your research.
Another benefit of Google Scholar is that you can access a wide range of publishers, academic institutions, and authors. This variety in their collection means you can find a wide range of resources on any topic, providing different perspectives and enabling you to conduct thorough research. More importantly, Google Scholar offers a citation button, where you can click to acquire the full reference in various citation styles, such as APA or MLA, to post in your bibliography.
Pro-tip, some of the resources in Google Scholar are not peer-reviewed or from reputable sources. Therefore, you must carefully evaluate every resource you intend to use to verify its credibility and reliability. Furthermore, not all resources are full text, meaning you might conduct additional research through other means to get the source.
Use specific keywords and search terms related to your research topic to get the best out of Google Scholar. This helps limit the research results. Advanced filter options on the left panel narrow the results by publication year, author, and journal title.
Reputable Sources and Organizations
You can get credible scholarly sources from reputable publishers and organizations. This category provides high-quality, peer-reviewed, and credible academic sources from various disciplines.
These publishers and organizations have also made a name for themselves in their respective disciplines. Examples include academic presses such as Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Nature and Science, and Harvard University. Organizations might include government agencies, research institutes, and reputable companies such as Statista or Pew Research.
An important aspect to consider when considering these organizations is the company’s reputation and expertise in the subject matter. You can achieve this by reading their mission, editorial policies, or goals. Also, use peer-reviewed sources, often evaluated by external or internal experts in the field before publication. This review process makes peer-reviewed articles more credible scholarly sources in the academic field than non-peer-reviewed journals.
Furthermore, consider a source assessing the source by its own merit to ascertain its credibility and reliability. Here’s how to check a source’s credibility: the authors’ credentials, methodology, and citation history.
In conclusion, a researcher must acquire credible scholarly sources to complete a high-quality research paper in any field. Key sources to start include Library databases, Google Scholar, and reputable organizations and publishers. Government agencies equally provide vetted information, especially data records, essential for supporting claims and arguments.
However, a researcher must vet each resource to ensure its validity, credibility, and relevance. Utilizing a range of credible scholarly sources helps increase the reliability and quality of your research and contributes towards advancing knowledge in your field.
I would recommend that students use library databases and independent researchers and writers without higher learning credentials use Google Scholar.