When writing a research paper, one of the first steps is selecting good academic resources. Without scholarly sources, the academic integrity of your paper becomes questionable. Especially as a college student, it’s common for professors to scrutinize the research cited. Therefore, your student success will depend on finding high-quality resources to support your research paper. Interestingly, developing this skill will also help you in your fitness career as you evaluate the credibility of trending exercises, workouts, and diets. Therefore, evaluating sources isn’t a one-time skill you’ll use. Use this guide as you begin your academic research to support a winning essay. 

Know The Difference Between A Primary Source And A Secondary Source

Although primary resources and secondary resources can both be credible, it’s helpful to know the difference between them. A primary source includes direct and original evidence, information, or data. For example, this can be original research conducted by an academician. It can also include historical documents, demographic data, or governmental statistics. Primary sources are good to include in your research process because they don’t leave room for interpretation. However, knowing how they fit into your academic writing or support your thesis can be difficult if you’re new to selecting resources. Therefore, looking for a secondary resource can help get you started.

A secondary source is one that pulls information from the primary sources. It can be an interpretation of data or provide a narrative around applications of a finding. These types of resources are usually easier for undergraduates to turn to because it makes sense of the raw data the primary source includes. It’s good practice to include both original research and secondary sources in your paper. It might be helpful for you to begin with secondary resources to understand a concept. Then, you can turn to the referenced primary resource to support the narrative. 

Identify Credible Sources

The internet is a huge information source everyone uses daily. However, you need to use it with caution as you conduct your research. Follow these Dos and Don’ts when using the internet for your information needs.

Internet Sources To Avoid

While the internet can provide helpful information, think twice before citing sources from:

  • Wikipedia. Wikipedia can be a great place for you to gather background information and understand some of your topics better. However, it’s open-source, and anyone can edit the pages without verification of credentials or trustworthiness. It has an easy-to-read format which can be helpful to understand but don’t include it as one of your academic resources.
  • Social media. Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms are also dangerous territory. Even worse than Wikipedia, none of the information is fact-checked. While Wikipedia can give you background information that might be useful, it’s best to steer clear of all social media to avoid being pulled into an erroneous position. 
  • Blogs. While there are some blogs with great credibility serving as a valuable information sources, it’s rare. Blogs aren’t just digital diaries, and they aren’t always called “blogs”. In fact, many organizations have blogs listed as “resources” on their website. But, they’re not scholarly sources and instead support a business rather than an objective learning center for scholars. 
  • Anything outdated. Scholarly articles that are more than 30 years old likely have outdated opinions or statements. Search for a related journal article to lend more credibility to your paper.

Trustworthy Resources

Use this checklist for selecting sources to support your academic writing process.

  • Is it a credible website? This includes trustworthy sources like the WHO (World Health Organization), NIH (National Institute of Health), CDC (Center for Disease Control), etc. Most government websites will be accepted in your paper. If not, contact your instructor or student success department for more information. 
  • Is it a credible source? For degrees in exercise science, you can find academic research from PubMed, EBSCO, and Google Scholar, to name a few.
  • For recent events, is it a trustworthy source? You should avoid magazine articles and news publications that are not well known or stand more for opinion rather than fact. However, if you’re looking for supporting information related to recent events, you can turn to current events sources like the Washington Post, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal.

Processes To Guide Your Academic Research

It’s not always easy to find credible sources. If you need some help or want to expedite the process, check out these tips.

  • Look at the bibliography in your required reading textbooks. A published textbook that’s sole purpose is to educate graduate, and undergraduate students will have a bibliography you can trust. For example, if you’re writing about the applicability of movement screens, look at the resources cited in your fitness assessments chapter or textbook. Then, look up these resources and cite them in a way that fits your paper.
  • Browse abstracts. By looking at abstracts first, you save time on reading an entire journal article that you might not even use in your paper. Therefore, do a quick search of abstracts and keep notes on scholarly articles you might want to come back to when you start your writing process. 
  • Make sure your topic isn’t too broad or narrow. If your topic is too broad or narrow, you’ll have a tough time finding the right research to support your academic assignment. Before going too far down the research path, check with your professor on your writing topic. This person is an expert and resource, so don’t forget to use them. They’ll quickly evaluate your topic and help you refine it if needed. 

The student success team at Lionel University is here to make your exercise science degree journey easier than you could imagine. When you’re successful in your academic and professional journey, we’re successful! Contact us today for more information!

A team committed to you is just one of the many things you get with a degree in exercise science from Lionel University. It doesn’t matter what degree program you’re in (associate's degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree), writing a research paper is easy when you love what you’re learning and have devoted experts to help.

Find out why other students choose Lionel and love it. You can get financial aid to make it an easier transition. And, the courses are all online. This means you can earn your degree from home and on your own time. It’s the best way to learn when you get to choose. Furthermore, the reputation of Lionel is elite. The founders of Lionel are pioneers in the fitness space and have prestigious backgrounds. This means you’ll be learning from the best and most respected program available.