- Finding credible sources for academic research can be a major challenge for many college students.
- A growing number of online databases and libraries offer millions of potential sources.
- The university library helps students access restricted academic sources.
- Discover new online resources to make your next research project more efficient.
Every college student conducts research at some point. And professors have strong views on what counts as a credible academic resource. Choosing the wrong sources can hurt your grade.
So how can you conduct research efficiently while avoiding sleepless nights in the campus library? Online academic research websites make it easier to find reliable sources quickly.
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College students conduct academic research in all kinds of disciplines, including science, history, literature, engineering, and education. And when it comes to college research papers, academic resources are the best sources.
Rather than pulling random facts from the internet — and running into problems with citations — college students need to know how to find credible sources and how to use online academic tools. Keep reading to learn how you can find the best credible sources for your college research needs.
How to Find Credible Sources for Research
How can you find credible sources for research and avoid misinformation? Your instructor likely recommends avoiding general web content or Wikipedia.
Finding the most reliable websites for research starts with evaluating the website itself. Sites run by academic or government organizations rank high in reliability. Databases and specialized search engines can also provide good research sources.
Next, make sure you understand the source of the information and the process used to publish it. Scholarly articles and books that undergo peer review make for the best academic resources.
Finally, when in doubt, check with your instructor or an academic librarian. They can help point you to reliable sources or double-check sources you're unsure about.
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The 10 Best Academic Research Sources
What resources will point you toward reliable sources for your academic research? Rather than scrolling through pages of search results, turn to these academic resources when you need to find sources.
Looking for an academic article, thesis, or abstract? Google Scholar should be your first stop. Google Scholar helps you find related works, locate full documents at your school library, and access scholarly research.
While Google created Google Scholar, it's very different from a general online search. Google Scholar brings together academic articles and ranks them based on the authors, publication location, and citation record. That means the top results generally represent the most reliable scholarship on your topic.
For journal articles, books, images, and even primary sources, JSTOR ranks among the best online resources for academic research. JSTOR's collection spans 75 disciplines, with strengths in the humanities and social sciences. The academic research database includes complete runs of over 2,800 journals.
And if you're looking for images, turn to Artstor, which offers over 2.5 million images related to the arts, sciences, and literature. However, JSTOR is not an open-access database. That means you'll need to log in through your university library, which typically includes off-campus access.
As the largest library in the world, the Library of Congress is an amazing online resource for academic research. Students can search its collections to access digital resources, videos, audio recordings, photographs, and maps.
The library's materials also include notated music, web archives, legislation, and 3D objects. You'll find materials for almost any topic in its extensive collections. You can search historic American newspapers from 1777-1963 with the Chronicling America tool or look up pirate trials in another digital collection.
The National Library of Medicine, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, runs PubMed Central. Founded in 2000, the database includes academic scholarship dating back to the 18th century. The resource connects college students with life sciences and biomedical academic sources.
And as an open-access database, PubMed Central offers free access to scholarly literature. Today, PubMed Central has over 7 million full-text records, making it a great resource for students in the life sciences or medical fields.
5. Google Books
Whether you're looking for a recent publication or an out-of-print book, there's a good chance you'll find it on Google Books. In 2019, Google announced that Google Books contains over 40 million books.
You can enter any search term to find books that contain matches. And you can download the full text of any book in the public domain — which includes 10 million titles. Make sure to check publisher and author information when using Google Books.
The site also includes reference pages that link to book reviews. Keep in mind that you'll have more limited access to recent books. Still, Google Books is a great first step to find sources that you can later look for at your campus library.
If you're looking for scientific research, Science.gov is a great option. The site provides full-text documents, scientific data, and other resources from federally funded research.
A U.S. government site, Science.gov searches more than 60 databases and 2,200 scientific websites. You'll find over 200 million pages of research and development information, including projects funded by 14 federal agencies. Students in any STEM field can benefit from the resource.
University librarians curate the Digital Commons Network, which connects students with peer-reviewed articles. The site's other resources include dissertations, book chapters, conference proceedings, and working papers.
The Digital Commons Network includes scholarly work from diverse disciplines like architecture, business, education, law, and the sciences. You can also access humanities, social sciences, and engineering scholarship through the network.
ResearchGate has been described as social networking for research scientists. But ResearchGate is also a great option to find open-access academic sources. Scholars upload their work to ResearchGate, which makes it available to the public for free.
Currently, over 20 million researchers around the world use the site, which contains over 135 million publications. College students looking for scientific research can often find resources on ResearchGate and even connect with scholars.
When you're looking for library resources, WorldCat is one of the best tools. Connected to over 10,000 libraries, WorldCat is a database that allows you to search library collections.
The database lists books and articles available at your local libraries, making it easier to find materials that are not available online. In addition to books, WorldCat contains music, videos, audiobooks, and scholarly articles.
You can also find digital research materials, including photos. When you're logged into WorldCat through your university library, you can also access full-text articles and other resources. Or you can use WorldCat to find sources to request through interlibrary loan.
10. Your University Library
When you're conducting academic research, your university library can be one of your best resources. In addition to online databases, journal articles, and books, your campus library also has academic librarians who can point you to the best sources.
When you don't know where to start, reach out to an academic librarian to learn more about your school's research tools. Or use interlibrary loan to get a scanned copy of an article. Many of the campus library's resources are available online, making them easy to access.
How to Access Academic Resources
Many sites offer open-access resources. That means anyone can access the materials. Other sites restrict what you can read. For example, you might find some blank pages when searching on Google Books because of copyright restrictions. And many academic articles are behind paywalls.
Fortunately, college students benefit from one of the best resources for conducting research: the university library. Your library likely subscribes to multiple academic databases and journals. If you run into a paywall, check whether your library offers access to the resource.
That's why it's of utmost importance to make sure that you're using the right websites for your research, with government and educational websites generally being the most reliable. Credible sources for research include: science.gov, The World Factbook, US Census Bureau, UK Statistics, and Encyclopedia Britannica.What is the best website for academic research? ›
- Google Scholar.
- Library of Congress.
- PubMed Central.
- Google Books.
- Digital Commons Network.
That's why it's of utmost importance to make sure that you're using the right websites for your research, with government and educational websites generally being the most reliable. Credible sources for research include: science.gov, The World Factbook, US Census Bureau, UK Statistics, and Encyclopedia Britannica.How do I find reliable research websites? ›
- Websites with . edu or . org domains.
- News sources with first-hand reporting.
- Research-oriented magazines like ScienceMag or Nature Weekly.
- Don't rely exclusively on Net resources. ...
- Narrow your research topic before logging on. ...
- Know your subject directories and search engines. ...
- Keep a detailed record of sites you visit and the sites you use. ...
- Double-check all URLs that you put in your paper.
Types of Credible Sources
Well-established newspapers and magazines (not the opinion sections): New York Times, Time, Newsweek, scholarly journals and books. government and (most) university websites. professional organization website or magazine.
1. Google Scholar. Google Scholar is perhaps the most popular tool for finding scholarly literature on a plethora of topics. The search engine makes it simple for anyone to explore academic papers, theses, case law, books, etc.What are 5 reliable sources of information? ›
- fact books.
Look at the three letters at the end of the site's domain name, such as “edu” (educational), “gov” (government), “org” (nonprofit), and “com” (commercial). Generally, . edu and . gov websites are credible, but beware of sites that use these suffixes in an attempt to mislead.Is .org or .com more reliable for research? ›
The Trust Flow metric measures how reliable a website or brand is based on data collected from millions of users. .com domains tend to be more reliable than . org domains, as they are often associated with larger and more reputable organizations.
- Study the address bar and URL.
- Investigate the SSL certificate.
- Check the website for poor grammar or spelling.
- Verify the domain.
- Check the contact page.
- Look up and review the company's social media presence.
- Scholarly, peer-reviewed articles and books.
- Trade or professional articles or books.
- Magazine articles, books and newspaper articles from well-established companies.
- Task Definition: 1.1 Define the problem. ...
- Information seeking strategies: 2.1 Brainstorm all possible sources. ...
- Location and Access: 3.1 Locate sources. ...
- Use of information: 4.1 Engage (e.g., read, hear, view). ...
- Synthesis: 5.1 Organize information from multiple sources. ...
Google Scholar is the clear number one when it comes to academic search engines. It's the power of Google searches applied to research papers and patents. It not only lets you find research papers for all academic disciplines for free but also often provides links to full-text PDF files.How do I use Google for academic research? ›
- Google Scholar searches are not case sensitive. ...
- Use keywords instead of full sentences. ...
- Use quotes to search for an exact match. ...
- Add the year to the search phrase to get articles published in a particular year. ...
- Use the side bar controls to adjust your search result.
Websites with .com or . net. are not unreliable, but they should be used with caution. In Google's Advanced Search, you can limit your searches by domain.Are Google Scholar articles credible? ›
While Google Scholar is free and easy to use, it does not mean that everything found on it is a fully reliable source. It is up to the researcher to determine if the source is reliable.What are credible sources vs reliable sources? ›
Reputable sources (sometimes called reliable sources) rely on the reputation of their publication (ex. newspaper or journal) for having high standards of researching, fact-checking, accountability, and ethical reporting. Credible sources rely on the expertise of the author to know the topic completely.What is the most powerful research tool? ›
Randomized controlled trial (RCT) can be said to be one of the simplest but most powerful tool of research.Which is the most commonly used research tool? ›
The questionnaire is the main instrument for collecting data in survey research.
Some examples include blogs, websites, online articles, online journal articles, and any website a writer could find online.What is an example of a credible online source? ›
Any website that contains . edu or . gov in the URL code would serve as an example of a credible online source. Other relatively reliable sources include famous online dictionaries and encyclopedias.What are the 4 common sources of information? ›
- Library Catalog.
Credible sources include peer-reviewed journals, government agencies, research think tanks, and professional organizations. Major newspapers and magazines also provide reliable information thanks to their high publishing standards. Reputable news sources require all content to be fact-checked before publication.What are the six ways to tell if a website is credible? ›
There are six (6) criteria that should be applied when evaluating any Web site: authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, coverage, and appearance. For each criterion, there are several questions to be asked. The more questions you can answer "yes", the more likely the Web site is one of quality.What websites are considered scholarly? ›
Websites produced by government departments, representing industry bodies, universities or research centers often contain useful information such as statistics, policies, reports and case studies and are considered scholarly.What domain is most likely to be credible? ›
Key takeaway: .com is the #1 most trusted domain extension, with . co in a close second place.Is .gov or .edu more reliable? ›
gov are among the most reliable sources on the web.
Web postings with the . edu suffix, when they represent a college or university, are likewise reliable. Database postings which publish entries from encyclopedias or articles are also trustworthy, even if no author is listed.What are 3 warning signs that a website is not reliable? ›
- 1: The Information is Too Good to Be True. ...
- 2: The Writing is Low-Quality. ...
- 3: The Page Doesn't Cite Its Sources. ...
- 4: You Found It Through an Unreliable Means. ...
- 5: You Can't Verify the Information.
Reliable websites are transparent about their sources and help the reader gain a deeper understanding of the topic, rather than relying on opinion pieces or second-hand news.What is the most reliable primary source? ›
Generally, education and government websites tend to have the most varied and trustworthy primary sources. Oftentimes, though not always, these websites end in . edu or . gov.What are the 3 sources of information? ›
Sources of information or evidence are often categorized as primary, secondary, or tertiary material.What are the 3 basic research skills? ›
Common research skills necessary for a variety of jobs include attention to detail, time management, and problem solving.What are three 3 advantages of using online research? ›
- Faster. The time span needed to complete surveys online is on average two-thirds shorter than that of traditional research methods. ...
- Cheaper. Using online questionnaires reduces your research costs. ...
- More accurate. ...
- Quick to analyse. ...
- Easy to use for participants. ...
- Easy to use for researchers. ...
- Easy to style. ...
- More honest.
Research skills refer to the ability to search for, locate, extract, organise, evaluate and use or present information that is relevant to a particular topic.What are the most 3 popular search engines? ›
- The Best Search Engine in The World: Google.
- Search Engine #2. Bing.
- Search Engine #3. Baidu.
- Search Engine #4.Yahoo!
- Search Engine #5. Yandex.
- Search Engine #6. Ask.
- Search Engine #7. DuckDuckGo.
- Search Engine #8. Naver.
- Google. There's a reason Google is the top search engine in the world. ...
- Bing. Bing is the second-largest search engine globally by market share. ...
- 3. Yahoo. Despite Bing owning Yahoo, the search engine results for any given phrase are not identical on the two sites. ...
- DuckDuckGo. ...
- Google Scholar. ...
- DogPile. ...
Google Scholar is a Web search engine that specifically searches scholarly literature and academic resources.Does Google have a research tool? ›
Our keyword research tool gives you insight into how often certain words are searched and how those searches have changed over time. This can help you narrow your keyword list down to the ones you really want.
While Google searches the entire Web, Google Scholar limits its searches to only academic journal articles produced by commercial publishers or scholarly societies. Google Scholar eliminates material from corporations, non-scholarly organizations, and from individuals.Is .edu or .gov more reliable? ›
gov are among the most reliable sources on the web.
ResearchGate is much better. One can communicate quickly with community in case of a question, have nice statistics about your work and is really a good platform for sharing the research. ResearchGate - the best solution for communication and discussion.Is .edu the most reliable? ›
If it is from a department or research center at a educational institution, it can generally be taken as credible. However, students' personal Web sites are not usually monitored by the school even though they are on the school's server and use the . edu domain.What are 5 examples of reliable sources? ›
- fact books.
- org (a registered organisation)
- edu (an educational institution)
- gov (a government agency)
- gov.au (an Australian government agency)
A reliable source is one that provides a thorough, well-reasoned theory, argument, discussion, etc. based on strong evidence. Scholarly, peer-reviewed articles or books -written by researchers for students and researchers.Which domain is better? ›
Key finding: which domain extension is best in 2022? . com domains are over 33% more memorable than URLs with other top-level domains. .com is the #1 most trusted TLD, with .Which is better Google Scholar or ResearchGate? ›
Though there are 161 authors having more publications recorded in RG, but only 5 authors have higher citation counts recorded in RG. Thus, GS is found to capture a higher number of citations possibly from a wide set of sources. Figure 7 shows the difference of No. of citation counts in GS and No.Do people still use ResearchGate? ›
ResearchGate claims 15 million users, and it will help you connect with many researchers who aren't on Academia.edu. It can also help you understand your readers through platform-specific metrics, and confirm your status as a helpful expert in your field with their “Q&A” feature.
ResearchGate connects you with other researchers, helps you discover content valuable to your work, and lets you make your own research visible. Here's how: Connect with colleagues, co-authors, and specialists in your field. Add your research to your profile to make it discoverable by other researchers.Is a .CO website reliable? ›
co domain legit? Yes, a . co domain is a legitimate TLD extension that has been recognized and accepted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).How do you know if a source is reliable? ›
- Currency: Timeliness of the information.
- Relevance: Importance of the information for your needs.
- Authority: Source of the information.
- Accuracy: Truthfulness and correctness of the information.
- Purpose: Reason the information exists.