Guide to Research Paper Sources: How to Find and Use Them

Referencing is extremely important when it comes to writing a research paper. Citing the sources accessed in your research paper prevents plagiarism, validates your claims, and shows just how much effort you have put into your work. You must know how to cite sources in a research paper. Here, you’ll learn how to find the right sources for your research paper.

Guide to finding the right types of sources for research papers

There are a variety of sources for research papers. These sources range from journals, and news articles, to books. The kind of places you get information would depend largely on the kind of research paper you are writing. Irrespective of research type, finding a credible source for your research paper depends on the following factors:

  1. The reputation of the source

The reputation of the source you’re citing tells a lot about the quality of your research paper. Citing the work of an authority source will earn your paper more regard than referring to just any kind of source. You must look into the reputation of the source before you settle for any. A reputable research paper source example is a journal accessed from the national library.

  1. Content quality

The quality of the content you want to cite often revolves around the language used, style, and update. Sometimes, we find that the content is outdated, the language is vulgar, and the style is not right for your research.

How legitimate is the information from the source you’re citing? Many researchers depend on internet sources for citation since it is easier to make research on this platform. This exposes their paper to a lot of false and vague findings. Whether you’re sourcing online or offline, be certain that the facts are proven and can be trusted.

  1. Relevance to your research

This is one of the most important factors to look out for when finding sources. The values of the sources must align with what your project is. For instance, you do not expect to access a source about dogs when your research topic covers the first world war.

  1. Reviews

Reviews tell a lot about the sources, their authors, and publishers even before you access them. Whether you’re looking into archival facts, newspapers, journals, or internet sourcing, be certain to know what others think about the source before you begin.

How many sources should a research paper have?

There is no fixed number of citations for all kinds of research papers. The right number of sources a paper needs would depend on factors like the kind of paper, its structure, and its total number of pages. Usually, a 20 pages research paper may require 20 sources. Shorter papers may however require only about 4 or 5 citations. How many sources for a research paper shows how much work you put into the work. Too many sources mean there is very little of your idea in the work. Similarly, having too few sources means you have carried out very little research for your paper.

How to integrate sources into a research paper

You can use sources in different manners for your research paper. Some requirements while citing a source include the name of the author, year of book publication, editor’s name, book title, journal number, link to accessed sites, and publishing house. Here’s how to include your sources in your paper

  • In a narrative pattern within or at the end of a sentence. For example: According to (cute source), (give fact)
  • On a different page as a referencing list
  • At the end of each page or chapter of your research paper in the form of endnotes/footnotes

Why is it important to cite sources correctly in a paper?

  1. It validates your paper

Whether you’re writing a research paper for school or work, citing your sources properly validates your paper. It makes it easier for people to find out where and how you have gotten the information you’re writing about.

  1. It’s part of the criteria for a good research paper

Properly citing your sources is a criterion for a good research paper. Doing it wrongly can frustrate your research when it comes to defending what you have written.

  1. Proof that you have good scientific and writing knowledge

If you have properly cited your sources, people trust that you know what you’re doing, and you have the right skills needed for the task. A poorly cited source shows that you do not properly understand scientific research methods.


It is extremely important to take sources for a research paper seriously because they have the power to downplay or validate your research effort. The tips in this article will help you find the right sources for your research paper.

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