Let me guess, it’s late at night, you procrastinated your research paper, and now you are struggling to find quality sources to cite in your paper. Let me be the first one to tell you, you are not alone. I too struggle with writing research papers because I feel as if the sources I am using are just not good enough. But once you learn a few tips and tricks of the web you will have quality sources in no time!
First I am going to let you in on a few tricks that I learned to help narrow down my search results on Google…
- The more descriptive you can be the better! Searching general terms such as “global warming” will produce millions of results that may overwhelm you, but if you search “global warming longterm effect on the atmosphere” you will return fewer results that will be more useful to your paper.
- Too many results? Use Googles ‘advanced search’ option! This option allows you to narrow down results using any detail of the web page such as the URL, description, title, etc.. This is useful if you are searching for a url containing .edu or .gov because Google will only return results containing the information you have requested.
There are many other ways you can use to narrow down Google results, but these are two tips that I find the most helpful!
Once you have narrowed some results on Google and clicked on one of the links, you then need to determine if the source will be a quality source for you to use in your research paper. Ideally you want to check the sources reliability, quality, and utility. Check things such as the author, publish date, and reviews of the website. All of this information will let you know right away if the source is something that is going to be credible and reliable for good information. Also check and see how well the paper is written. Does it cite any sources? Are there any strong details or bias? If the article is too general, it is not something that you will want to use. Also, if the article contains any bias you should avoid it because in a research paper facts are extremely important. Lastly, check and make sure the article is actually focused toward the topic you are writing about. You want to keep your information pretty narrowed, and getting too far off of your topic can hurt your paper. If the webpage meets these credentials it is most-likely a credible source to use and something that will add value to you paper!
Don’t stress too much about your sources! With some practice it will become easier to identify reliable sources!