Finding relevant sources for your research project can be a daunting task but it becomes even more tiring when you need to pay attention to the credibility of those sources. That is where the real problem begins. It is one of the most critical aspects that require the writers’ attention. Using unreliable websites like Wikipedia can make your entire work unreliable as well and we don’t want that, right?
Hence this is why we have come up with this incredible guide for you. You will not merely find a compilation of the best tips on how to choose reliable websites for research but also many examples of reliable sources that you can use to write any type of paper.
What are Credible Sources?
A credible source is free from bias and backed up by evidence. It is written by a trustworthy author or organization.
How to identify a credible source
There are a few things to pay attention to when assessing a source. Those few things come together to be known as the CRAAP test. The CRAAP test is a method used to evaluate if the source you are using is credible or not. The test consists of 5 components:
- Currency: the source you are using is up to date or not (sources that are published within the last 10 years are considered more reliable, older sources can be used for historical background)
- Relevance: the source is relevant to your work or not
- Authority: who is the author? Are they considered reputable and trustworthy in their field? Where was it published?
- Accuracy: is the source supported by evidence? Are the claims cited correctly?
- Purpose: what was the purpose behind publishing this source?
By checking these things you can make sure that the source you are going to use in your research paper is credible or not.
Types of Sources
When you start working on your research paper, you will come across millions of sources all those sources are divided into three categories: Primary sources, secondary sources, and tertiary sources.
Primary sources are generally considered more reliable and credible when it comes to providing evidence for your argument because they provide direct evidence of what you are researching. However, it is up to you to ensure the information they provide is reliable and accurate. (e.g. a news article)
Secondary sources provide an interpretation or commentary on primary sources (e.g. a journal)
Tertiary sources are sources that summaries or consolidate primary and secondary sources but do not provide any additional analysis or insights (e.g. an encyclopaedia). Tertiary sources are generally used for broad overviews at the beginning of a research project. Further along, you use primary and secondary sources to further formulate your stance.
Why is it important to use credible sources for research?
In short, if your paper’s claims are not supported by reliable sources, no one will think they are authentic. Take your time and choose only reliable sources because doing so will convince the reader that the information in your paper is accurate and credible.
This way, you as the author of the paper will gain the audience’s trust and support. When your main arguments derive from credible places, they know that you haven’t made it up. Also, it’s more than just about authority. Sometimes unreliable sources may contain errors and mistakes, which is especially bad for science projects.
When on the lookout for reliable and credible sources, you will realise scholarly research, books and academic journals are your best friends.
Among these, academic journals are a great place to find trustworthy and credible content and are considered one of the most reliable sources you can use in academic writing. They usually are peer-reviewed which makes their credibility off the chart.
What is peer review?
The peer review is a process in which panels of reviewers from the same subject area decide whether a submission should be accepted for publication based on the set criteria. For this reason, academic journals are often regarded as the most credible sources you can use for your research project.
Now let’s discuss how you can assess if the journal is credible or not. Below you will find some ways to check the journal’s credibility.
- Is the journal indexed in academic databases?
- How many articles has the journal had to retract?
- Are the journal’s copyright and peer review policies readily accessible?
- Are there solid ‘About’ and ‘Scope’ pages detailing what sorts of articles they publish?
- Has the article’s author written any other pieces? A quick Google Scholar search will show you.
- Has the author been cited by other academics? Google Scholar has a feature called “Cited by” that allows you to view how many times an author has been cited.
Google Scholar is a search engine for academic sources. It is a great place to kick-start your research. Open Educational Resources, or OERs, are licensed for ‘free use’ material in educational settings and legitimate OERs are considered great resources but make sure they have a Creative Commons licence and meet the CRAAP test (in the authority section especially). The OER Commons is a solid place to start.
Other popular databases where you can find academic journals online include:
|Science + Mathematics||OMICS International|
|Business and Commerce||ABI/INFORM collection
|Social Science + Humanties||ProjectMuse|
While they are very common, they are among the most challenging to evaluate for credibility. When you initially begin your research you will come across many blogs that are written by normal people some of them are backed by credible sources and some are written on the go without proper research. Another example is a website like Wikipedia which can be altered by anyone at any time. So using these types of blogs, social media posts or websites for your paper will affect your paper’s credibility which is why it is better to exercise caution here.
What one should do first is take a look at the URL.
- Websites that end with .edu are educational resources and they are considered the most trustworthy in academic settings.
- Websites that end with .gov are government-affiliated and are often considered credible.
- Website for non-profit or advocacy end in .org. generally, they are considered credible, but before using them make sure the information provided is unbiased
- Websites with some sort of commercial aspect end in .com. while these can be credible it is better to exercise caution here.
Another thing you should check is vague terms, buzzwords or writing that is too subjective or emotive. Beware of big claims and topics that are critically analysed that are not cited or have no evidence that backed the information.
By keeping all these things in mind and then going in to hunt for credible sources will make the process easier and fruitful. Good Luck with your research!