Skip to Main Content

Research Paper Planner: Guide

The links in this Guide will help you meet the research schedule laid out in the Research Paper Planner and support your research for completing essays, research papers, and theses. The schedule portion is located at

5: Finding Sources

Finding and using reliable sources is one of the steps of the research process that moves you from having an opinion to having an educated opinion.  You will need to read widely among the types of sources that academic papers require.  Academic sources include:

  1. books (sometimes called "monographs"),
  2. articles (from popular, professional, and scholarly publishers),
  3. newspaper articles, and
  4. primary sources (diaries, interviews, novels and literature, oral histories, etc.)

Websites are often not acceptable sources for college-level papers.

The boxes on this page give you information on why you would use each of these four main types of sources, how you would find these types of sources at Baylor, and provides links on how to read effectively.

Using OneSearch to Find Resources

Search Basics


Books provide an in-depth treatment of a topic or subject. The length of a book means the author can include more information and cover more issues than can be included in a journal article. Scholarly books (or monographs) are published after about 2-3 years of research and writing by the author, and time spent by the publishers and editors reading and proofing the text, checking the references, and printing and marketing the book.  

There are features of scholarly books that will help you grasp what the author intends.  The first of these is the "Introduction"  Here, the author tells you what are the main goals s/he has in writing this book, outlines the content of each chapter, and explains why this book is important. There is also the sources used in writing the book.  These maybe presented towards the end of the book in a bibliography, or at the end of each chapter in a section labeled notes, or  further readings.  These sections will tell you which scholars and materials were used to help form the author's ideas and conclusions.  Lastly, there is usually an index which will help you find specific instances of a concept, person, place, or event mentioned within the book.


Baylor Libraries doesn't own all the books published.  To find books on your topic that we don't own, use WorldCat, which will list books in libraries in the United States and around the world. 


Articles will provide in-depth information on a focused topic.  There are generally three types of articles: those from popular journals (ex.: Time/NewsweekScientific American, Sports Illustrated), professional journals (ex.: ForbesCorrections TodayFlorida Nurse), and academic/scholarly/peer-reviewed (ex.: Public Health NursingJournal of Human RightsBlack Scholar).

The links below will help you search for articles of various types, learn how to read the citation for the article, and identify if you have found a popular, professional, or scholarly journal.

News Sources/Newspapers

News sources are useful for getting information on an event as soon as it happens or for finding out how people responded to an event (the bombing of Hiroshima, for example) at the time it happened.

While news articles are not usually part of a research paper, they may be needed to present the background information.  Two good sources are listed below.

Primary Sources

Primary sources can be the novel you are studying in class, a newspaper article about the California Gold Rush, or the diary a 19th century slave.  Using primary sources in your paper can add a first-hand account of social conditions or events, but may not be needed in every paper you write. You want to be sure you are using an authentic primary source, not a faked one.  Below are links to how to find primary sources in Onesearch or WorldCat which also links to the research guide to primary sources created for Baylor researchers.

Web Sources

Sometimes when writing a paper or working on a project, you are allowed to use appropriate websites for information. Please first check with your instructor to see whether or not you are allowed to use a website for information.  If you are, use these tools listed here to evaluate the websites you find and to determine whether they are of significant quality to use for a college-level assignment.

University Libraries

One Bear Place #97148
Waco, TX 76798-7148

(254) 710-6702