What are good sources to cite?

From LitWiki

Recognize Good sources

Using proper sources builds and audience's trust in a writer. They allow readers to verify what an author has to say and delve more deeply into the topic. Incorrectly cited or untrustworthy sources can cause readers to question the validity of your claims.

Sources to Avoid[1]
Two hallmarks of a bad source are unreliable authors and unverifiable credentials. Their content is often driven by the average internet user and cannot be trusted. Some examples of such pages are Blogs, Personal Websites, and Wikipedia.
There are many websites and tools out there that help writers create good citations. Indiana University has published a YouTube video that helps writers identify good sources. Correctly formatting your citations is also essential in creating good citations. Many students enjoy using EasyBib, a tool that formats sources into MLA style for free.

Peer-Reviewed Articles

A peer-reviewed article is one that is "read by subject experts (peers of the author) before they are published in a journal."[2]

Many library databases allow researchers to filter search results so they include only peer reviewed articles. Most Academic Journals are peer-reviewed, but to be certain you can "examine the "Instructions to Authors page" that most journals provide to assess if the submission process involves reviewers or referees (people who refer authors as credible)."[3]

Scholarly Articles

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether a source is "scholarly" but there are a questions to ask that can help determine a website's academic worth.
How to Identify a Scholarly Source[4]

  • Is it published by a Scholarly Association or society, or a university, or recognized scholarly publisher?
  • Are articles reviewed in some way?
  • Are the articles written for an academic audience or a popular audience?
  • Are the citations clear and abundant?
  • Is it published by a university press or other academic publisher?
  • Is it a textbook? If it is written for classroom use, it is not a scholastic source. It is intended as a learning tool, but the textbook references can help you find other sources.

Using Wikipedia

Students everywhere love to look to Wikipedia for answers. This is all well and good, but can Wikipedia be an appropriate source? There are many different policies on this and writers should always check with their supervisor before relying on Wikipedia. One thing that Wikipedia can give everyone is a jumping off point. Most wiki articles have many sources and writers can check out their sources and adopt them into their paper. It also allows authors to quickly gain a basic understanding of the subject they are writing on if they are unfamiliar with it.
Using Wikipedia as a source is a very controversial topic because it is able to be edited by anyone. The site has many fail-safes to keep errors to a minimum and usually succeeds. There is, however, no guarantee that when you go to the "American Civil War" wiki page you won't read that the south won and then proceeded to destroy Venus.[5]


  1. Fleming, Grace. 5 Bad Sources. About.com, 2013
  2. EMU Library. Scholarly Sources and Peer-Review. Easter Michigan University, 2013
  3. EMU Library. Scholarly Sources and Peer-Review. Easter Michigan University, 2013
  4. UCF Library, What is a Scholarly Source. University of Central Florida, 2013
  5. Raphael, JR, The 15 Biggest Wikipedia Blunders. PC World, 2008