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How to Find Academic Sources for Your Essay

When writing an academic essay, it’s crucial to use credible sources to support your arguments and provide evidence for your claims. Academic sources are those that have been peer reviewed, meaning they have been evaluated by experts in the field before being published.

Start with your university library

Your university library is a great place to start when looking for academic sources. Most universities have online databases that provide access to thousands of academic journals and articles. You can search for relevant keywords related to your topic, and then narrow down your results by using filters such as date of publication, author and journal name.

Use academic search engines

In addition to your university library, academic search engines can help you find relevant sources. Google Scholar is a popular one that lets you search for scholarly literature, including articles, theses, books and conference papers. Other academic search engines include JSTOR, ScienceDirect and Web of Science.

Check bibliographies of other sources

If you’ve already found some sources that are relevant to your topic, check their bibliographies for other potential sources. This is a great way to find related research that you may not have found through other searches. You can also use citation indexes such as Scopus or Google Scholar to find articles that have cited a particular source.

Ask your lecturer, tutor or librarian for help

If you’re having trouble finding academic sources, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your lecturer, tutor or university librarian can provide guidance on which databases and search terms to use. They can also offer advice on how to evaluate the credibility of sources.

Finding academic sources for your essay is a crucial step in the research process. By starting with your university library, using academic search engines, checking bibliographies of other sources and seeking help from your lecturer, tutor or librarian, you can ensure that your essay is well supported and credible.

Download our free summary checklist to help you identify credible sources
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Updated 6 March 2023
Ellen McRae, PhD, AE (IPEd), MNZSTI
Senior Managing Editor