Research Paper Blues: Your Sources

One of the tougher assignments in school is to create an essay. As early as upper elementary, such tasks are regularly given. But the higher up you go, the more challenging things become, especially if you encounter the dreaded research paper.

Though you may enjoy writing, what makes the research paper doubly hard is that you need sources to back up your argument. You cannot just write based on opinion alone.

If finding a source, has you worried, read on to learn more about it.

Checking the library

An obvious place to begin searching is the library. Teachers often require a mix of books, journals, and other scholarly references. Many of these exist on the shelves, and there is even a helpful librarian to assist you.

Aside from the physical references you can find, many universities also have their own database of studies by students (undergraduate and graduate levels). Many universities also have access to scholarly journals online, which means you don’t have to sign up or pay for membership.

Checking online

If your library is not that good or you are too lazy or too far to visit, the next recourse is to search for resources online. Here, things become a bit trickier as your search will come up with a mixture of academic and opinionated sources (blogs).

  1. Google Scholar / Google Books

Thankfully, our friendly search engine Google has another option for those looking for scholarly work. You can use Google Scholar or Google Books to help you find related studies for your paper.

  1. Digital libraries

Some good-hearted souls have compiled academic journals and books for the use of the general public. Some of these include JSTOR, Open Library, Universal Digital Library, and many more. So regardless of what field you need, you will probably find something within these sites.

  1. Respected websites

Another source you may use for interesting facts or important data is a respected website. These may be encyclopedia sites, NGOs, or well-known magazines like Time or National Geographic.

Taking notes to save time

Because of the many resources involved, it can be difficult to keep track of what you have. To save time, it pays to start taking notes the moment you realize you have a relevant source.

You should first take note of the style guide your paper needs (APA, MLA, Harvard). Then list down the needed info for referencing the source (e.g. title, author, publisher, date, and page numbers). And of course, be sure to write down the important data, theory, or quotes that you think may be helpful when you begin writing.

This helps because you don’t have to wrack your brain to recall where you saw something important. Such details written on an index card or filed away on your computer will also make it easier to organize your argument, especially if you make an online before writing.


Your academic resources are a very crucial part of the research paper process. So take note of the pointers above to help you find the references you need to support your study.

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