Different Types of Research Paper Sources

Different Types of Research Paper Sources

Relying on reliable research paper sources is of utmost importance when you are writing a paper, assignment, journal, or any other piece of formal writing. It becomes much easier to find and analyze credible research sources by being familiar with the different types of sources you can use for your research. 

Keep in mind that the specific type of sources you need for your research is also dependent on the kind of research you are conducting. In this article, you will get to learn about the different types of research sources you can use. 

Broad Categories of Information

Following are the main categories of information and their relevant research paper sources:

  • Introductory information can be found in encyclopedias and dictionaries. 
  • You can find general information related to history and other facts and figures relevant to your research from books in a library. 
  • There is a huge variety of credible newspapers and journal articles that you can use to find data related to events and current affairs.  
  • Scholarly journal articles can be found on platforms like Google Scholar to find scholarly information. 
  • Some of the journal platforms also offer discipline-specific databases to help you find relevant information quickly. 

Academic Resources

Academic resources, also known as scholarly resources, are written by experts with high qualifications and affiliations, such as M.D and Ph.D. Their primary target audience is other experts to ensure the conversation about a particular topic can be kept smooth and efficient between the experts. 

The language of the academic resources is quite difficult to understand for the non-experts as they involve a lot of technical and discipline-specific vocabulary. They contain a huge amount of verifiable and reliable data with proper citations. Most of the academic resources are peer-reviewed, which means other experts review and assess the information to ensure its factuality. 

Scholarly journals form the foundation of academic resources. Nowadays, it is quite easy to find credible scholarly journals online through various library databases. 

Significance of Peer Review

Peer review holds great significance in scholarly communication. The goal of peer review is to make sure an article or research paper is fully proofread and reviewed before publication. It is useful in maintaining high standards of paper content. 

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Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Resources

Research papers and journal articles often make use of primary, secondary, and tertiary resources. You should know about these three different types of resources in detail to get the most out of them.

A primary source in a scientific discipline means the original research or data that is the core of the other research. For instance, if research is being published about a completely new phenomenon or concept, it will be called a primary source. 

On the other hand, a paper that analyzes original research (primary source) is called a secondary source. In contrast, a tertiary source collects and summarizes information from multiple primary and secondary sources. 

If you want to get credible information through research paper sources, check out the following list of sources that contains both primary and secondary sources:

Government Agencies

Government agencies are controlled by professionals who have gone through a comprehensive hiring system. Therefore, you can use information from government entities as a primary source. These specific agencies can greatly vary on the basis of the countries from which you are conducting the research. Platforms like the Department of Health, State Department, and CIA World Factbook are some of the popular examples of such agencies and organizations. 


Journals, magazines, and newspaper articles are the three most popular types of periodical sources. Some of these sources are suitable for scholarly research like journal articles and thesis. At the same time, some sources are considered non-academic research, such as articles without any references and newsletters. The Wall Street Journal is an example of a periodical source. 

Academic Libraries

A wide range of databases and academic libraries is available in both free and paid versions. Educational institutes typically provide access to such prestigious databases. The information obtained from these sources is credible and reliable as they have well-organized bibliography to identify the author’s credentials and ensure maximum accuracy. Google Scholar and ScienceDirect are two of the most popular academic libraries that allow users to easily access different types of research. 

Reference Books

It should go without saying that reference books are also highly useful in expanding your knowledge about a particular topic and writing a comprehensive paper on it with proper citations and references. 

Which Sources Should You Avoid?

You must avoid the following resources while writing an academic article:

  • Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Wikipedia unless you are getting information directly from the source mentioned in the references. 
  • General blogs and articles. 
  • Outdated sources. 


These are some of the top research paper sources that you should know about to find reliable, credible, and factually accurate information to use in your own research while writing an academic paper or journal article. 

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