Finding and Selecting Sources for Your Academic Term Paper

You know that the writing of a term paper will depend to an enormous extent on how well you find and select sources of research material. The better the quality of the research material, the better your chances of producing an excellent term paper. But assuming that the relevant research material is available, the success of your search depends on your ability to find it.

There are several steps you can take to improve your finding and selecting research material sources

  • Write down the question you have to answer.
  • Know the difference between primary research and secondary research.
  • Set yourself a timetable and use it as a roadmap.
  • Know the sources of research material which are available.
  • Make a decision about what you will keep and what you will cull.
  • Call upon outside help wherever possible.

You're never going to be good at finding and selecting sources for your academic term paper if you don't know what you're actually looking for. The key to this is the thesis statement or any question you have to answer. Write this down. Keep this piece of paper with you at all times. Use this thesis statement or question you have to answer as your primary focus point. Once you have locked away what you require, you're in a much better position to go looking.

Primary research is relevant material to your topic which had been published such as in magazines, books and articles. Secondary research is made up of other academic papers which have been produced using the same or similar topic to you. You need to understand the difference between these two types of research because both can be relevant to what you are writing but each carries a different weight when it comes to citing references.

It might well be that there is a mountain of research material for you to peruse and in order to not get lost in the search, you need to set yourself some deadlines. You need a timetable by which you will locate relevant material and be able to read and decide upon its value. Put some milestones on your timetable and stick to them.

You are really handicapping yourself by not exploring all the possible sources of relevant research material. Your school or college library, fellow students, your teachers and the Internet are just some of the sources which might be able to supply relevant research material. It will pay you to explore each and every source.

There will come a time when you will need to make a decision. In every likelihood there will be an abundance of research material available. Finding it is the first task but selecting it is the second. If you are absolutely rock-solid in your understanding of the thesis statement, you will find it much easier to know which aspects of research material you will dump and which you will keep.

Get help

Don't be afraid to talk to people about helping you find and select resource material. Fellow students, former students and teaching staff at your academic institution are all possible helpmates. They may be able to suggest reference material you have not even thought of. You can show them the list of research material you have available and they may be other say certain titles in your list are really worth studying. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Research material is the foundation of your writing. Being able to locate it, assess it and then use it well are skills you can use in your term paper and in so many other aspects of your life.