In this day and age, we are lucky to have a surplus of scholarly information at our fingertips. No more are the hours of paging through card catalogs or scrolling through microfiche. The internet has made research easy – but it’s also made finding unreliable and false information easy.  Finding reputable research is always important, but especially so if you’re looking online. Knowing what information is credible and reputable is crucial for your dissertation or thesis work.

While each discipline has different benchmarkers for evaluating the quality of research, here are some general things to keep in mind when looking for sources:

Avoid Wikipedia. Wikipedia is able to be edited by multiple users and is constantly changing – and is not always accurate. It is not a scholarly or reputable source and should not be used as such.

Use your library! Whether it is your school/university library or your local library, the library is a wealth of information. Databases, research materials, and the librarians can all be hugely valuable resources for your research. Databases like EBSCO, LexisNexis, and others can provide you with a plethora of scholarly articles that are credible. Librarians can help you determine which databases might be helpful to you, where to start looking, and how to suss out what isn’t great.

Use caution with articles. Choose articles from peer-reviewed journals that are known in your field. Peer-reviewed articles have gone through careful examination and vetting, and are the gold standard in research. Magazine articles might be okay, if they are trade magazines in the field and the articles are well-researched and objective. They should not be your main source of information.

Avoid blogs and be critical with websites. Blogs and websites should never be main sources of information for a dissertation or thesis. If you read any blogs or websites on your topic, be critical of what you read, see who is writing it, and look to see if claims or information is backed up by research – and then find that information and those studies instead.

When in doubt, ask. Talk with your cohort, ask your professor or mentor, or find a professional editor who can ensure all of your research is from credible sources. If you’re having trouble finding sources, a consultation with an editor from Thesis Editor can help guide your research journey, and our research assistance can help bulk up your research stores.

We know that while having access to research is valuable, it can also be overwhelming. If you’re not used to it, you can easily become lost and choose articles or studies that are not reputable or just plain incorrect. Thesis Editor is here to help. All of our editors have been where you are and have done multiple research projects – or even work in research – and can help guide you toward reputable, credible sources. Your research is the backbone of your dissertation or thesis: you can’t afford to go wrong with your sources. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help!
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