How Should I Do My Thesis | Looking For Sources

Just like with any other serious academic assignment, the quality of your thesis is heavily dependent on the number and quality of information sources you use when writing it. Without a number of good sources you cannot hope to get a good evaluation from your thesis committee – no scientific work ever exists in isolation from the larger body of research. Data sources you use to back your hypothesis up demonstrate that you’ve studied previous works on the topic, know what conclusions people came to before you, what methods they used and so on. But where and how does one locate good sources? Let’s find out.

Your Literature List

Sometimes your supervisor will, quite straightforwardly, give you a list of relevant literature to read up for your task. It doesn’t mean that all these books and articles are applicable for your specific topic – they, however, often deal with the general area of research you are interested in, and at least some of them can serve as sources. Note the names of their authors – you may want to take a look at other works by them if they extensively study your topic.

Your Textbook

Your textbook should have Works Cited lists for each of its chapters. Find the list for the chapter related to the topic you write about and go through the sources mentioned there. Again, not all of them will be useful, but you will get a decent idea of who are the main authorities on the subject you write about.

Bibliography Lists of the Sources You’ve Already Found

Academic works can be perceived as a sort of network – take one, and you will find innumerable connections to other texts dealing with the same topic and authors that are specializing in it. Study the quotations and works cited in the sources you’ve already located, and you are bound to find a few more you can use.

Online Academic Databases

Academic databases and search engines can be incredibly useful in locating sources that may have evaded your detection so far. Some of them are free, like Google Scholar, others are commercial. However, colleges and universities often have subscriptions to the latter – check out which you can use and do an extensive search using keywords relevant for your thesis. These databases also usually mention how many times this or that work has been cited in other peer-reviewed papers, which is a good indication of the source’s quality – the more times it has been referred, the more esteemed it and its author are in academic community.

Thesis Samples

If you don’t have time or experience trouble working with sources, you may always use samples of theses on your topic or the one sufficiently similar to it, either ready-made or bought from a reliable writing agency like In addition to offering a selection of relevant sources, these samples can also give you a very good idea on thesis organization and structure.

Google Search

Google Scholar may be a good thing, but sometimes even good old Google search by itself can render interesting results. Try searching for your thesis’s title, most important keywords, names of authorities in the field you work in.

All that said, remember that more sources isn’t a good thing by definition, as not all sources are created equal. Some are more valuable, some are less. Although such things as newspaper articles, blogs and other online resources can be used as sources of information, they are inferior to articles in peer-reviewed journals and shouldn’t be used as your only source of data on the subject. If there are too many low-value sources, you should stop writing and immediately dedicate some time to locating a number of more reliable sources. Moreover, sometimes it may be a good idea to cut a number of low-quality altogether if you feel you can do without them – this will help you maintain a healthy balance between high- and low-value articles.

We hope that these tips will be helpful the next time you write a thesis – finding sources is sometimes the most difficult part of the work. If we’ve made it a little easier for you, then our job is done.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I'm Manjusha. This is my blog where I give IELTS preparation tips.

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