How to Find Credible Web Sources for a Research Paper

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One of the most important components when beginning a research paper is to verify that the sources that you will be using are credible. While you can use web based sources, it requires a greater effort than with other sources to confirm credibility, since there is so much nonsense online. Depending on the level of the class or course that you are writing a research paper for, you will generally want to limit the number of web-site based citations in favor of both primary and secondary sources that you find.

  • Look for sources with the URL ending in “.gov” or “.org” or “.edu.” Government websites will often provide a wealth of useful information on an array of subjects from environmental impact studies to space exploration.

  • Confirm the web source that you are considering using is up-to-date on the data that is presented. In some in some fields this might not be as essential. For example, when it comes to a history research paper of Henry the VIII, the facts may not have changed drastically, while a research paper on a topic like world poverty would benefit from up-to-date data.

  • Favor sites that offer citations that support what has been presented in an online article, blog post, etc. Many sites will provide a list of sources that were referenced in composing an article.

  • Visit libraries (usually at universities) that have access to full text online journals. For example, if you want a good general source Proquest is a good source, while more detailed and professional journals might be found in JSTOR or MUSE.

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