How to Find And Evaluate Scholarly Sources?

How do I find scholarly sources?

In practically any kind of research, you’ll have to find sources to engage with. How you find your scholarly sources will depend on what you’re looking for. The main places to look for sources are:

  • Research databases: A good place to start is with google scholar. Also, consult the website of your institution’s library to see what academic databases they provide access to.
  • Your institution’s library: Consult your library’s catalog to find relevant sources. Browse the shelves of relevant sections. You can also consult the bibliographies of any relevant sources to find further useful sources.

When using academic databases or search engines, you can use Boolean operators to include or exclude keywords to refine your results.

How do I evaluate scholarly sources?

Knowing how to evaluate sources is one of the most important information literacy skills. It helps you ensure that the sources you use are scholarly, credible, and relevant to your topic, and that they contain coherent and informed arguments.

You can:

  • Evaluate the credibility of a source using the CRAAP test or lateral readingThese help you assess a source’s currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose.
  • Evaluate a source’s relevance by analyzing how the author engages with key debates, major publications or scholars, gaps in existing knowledge, and research trends.
  • Evaluate a source’s arguments by analyzing the relationship between a source’s claims and the evidence used to support them.

When you are evaluating sources, it’s important to think critically and to be aware of your own biases.

Integrating and citing sources

In addition to finding and evaluating sources, you should also know how to integrate sources into your writing. You can use signal phrases to introduce sources in your text, and then integrate them by:

  • Quoting: This means including the exact words of another source in your paper. The quoted text must be enclosed in quotation marks or (for longer quotes) presented as a block quote. Quote a source when the meaning is difficult to convey in different words or when you want to analyze the language itself.
  • Paraphrasing: This means putting another person’s ideas into your own words. It allows you to integrate sources more smoothly into your text, maintaining a consistent voice. It also shows that you have understood the meaning of the source.
  • Summarizing: This means giving an overview of the essential points of a source. Summaries should be much shorter than the original text. You should describe the key points in your own words and not quote from the original text.

You must cite a source whenever you reference someone else’s work. This gives credit to the author. Failing to cite your sources is regarded as plagiarism and could get you in trouble.

The most common citation styles are APAMLA, and Chicago style. Each citation style has specific rules for formatting citations.

The easiest way to create accurate citations is to use the free Scribbr Citation Generator. Simply enter the source title, URL, or DOI, and the generator creates your citation automatically.

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