Sometimes research makes us feel overwhelmed by vast amounts of information, but other times it is fun and exciting. Therefore, we have put together this guide in hopes of reducing the overwhelming feeling and increasing the fun and excitement. This guide is for you. Please feel free to offer resources to include on the guide as well as resources to remove.
Wikipedia is a popular online encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone. Despite its open nature, many studies have shown that the website is just as reliable as Encyclopedia Britannica. And while Wikipedia is by no means a replacement for scholarly books and articles, it can be of immense use. This document will explain the benefits of using Wikipedia, as well as how to become an editor and start contributing to the site itself.
According to Wikipedia, "Articles should be based on reliable, published sources, making sure that all majority and significant minority views that have appeared in those sources are covered ... If no reliable sources can be found on a topic, Wikipedia should not have an article on it" (source). But what exactly does this mean? Below are some
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
Perhaps the best type of sources to use are peer-reviewed journal articles. These articles have been vetted by experts and then copy-edited by professional publishers. Journal articles can be found through the databases here at KU (e.g. Web of Science, PubMed), and some can even be accessed for free online.
Books from a Reliable Publisher
Books from a reliable publisher are also great. Sometimes it can be tricky to determine what a 'reliable' publisher is, though. University Presses are generally a pretty safe bet, as are big publishers like Routledge or Rowman & Littlefield. When in doubt, ask a professor or librarian for advice! (Note: If you do not have a physical copy of a book, be sure to check out Google Books. Sometimes, you can find the information you need through the site's search tools.)
Newspapers or Magazine Articles
Newspaper and magazine articles are generally acceptable, but they should be used with care. Do not use a newspaper or magazine source when you could instead use a book or a journal article. And remember: not all newspapers/magazines are created equal. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have a long history of reliability, but be skeptical of overtly biased reporting.
Things like websites can occasionally be used with care. However, the vast majority of websites or "grey literature" out there is not technically published; it was merely released into the world with the click of a mouse. Never cite a web site when you can cite a stronger source.