This is a question that comes up often with clients. They want to learn how to vet references and pick the good from the bad for academic writing. Over time, we have gained great insight into selecting references and what key features should be present in a good reference. You should avoid using Wikipedia or other online news media. In a fast-growing internet world, everyone wants to be a journalist. Sites are popping up all over from Reddit to Mashable and the infamous Wikipedia. In the case of Wikipedia, literally, anyone with computer access can change information on that site. Wikipedia’s own website says, “Wikipedia is not a reliable source. Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at any time. This means that any information it contains at any particular time could be vandalism, a work in progress, or just plain wrong.” They acknowledge their own limited ability to control information flow. Wikipedia can be a good starting place to find academic references, but you will have to use your sleuth skills (and the rest of our tips) to determine which sources are valid. One major indicator that a source is reliable is the author or researcher. Are they an expert in their field? Do they have multiple publications spanning several years or decades? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, you have found an author or expert who will be great sources of information for your writing. Dr. Radhika points out that peer-reviewed journal will include details about authors to include their academic credentials and institutional affiliation so readers can determine their level of expertise. Peer-reviewed journals have to go through a rigorous selection process to maintain the integrity of the journal. So if you have found an author with multiple peer-reviewed journal articles, it is a safe bet that it is a great source for references. Another great sign that your reference is sufficient for academic writing is the publication itself. Peer-review articles in academic journals are great resources. Books are also reliable sources of information for academic writing. You should avoid online news sources unless they have trusted hard-copy publications (e.g., The Wallstreet Journal, The New York Times, etc.). Online sources like CNN or Fox News can be biased and reduce author credibility for readers. A final question we get about finding credible resources is, where can clients find credible sources? A great free source for finding references is Google Scholar (scholar.google.com). A caveat, though, it will list articles that link to limited-access sites. However, there are many publicly available articles on Google Scholar that you can readily access. If you do not mind pop-up ads, another great free resource is IPL.org (Internet Public Library). OnlinePhDProgram.org has a list of 105 different resources, both free and paid, that you can use to find academic sources. Learning how to critically assess references will take your academic writing to another level. Finding great academic sources helps make you smarter about the topics you are writing, and it increases your credibility as a researcher. Reading advanced academic articles for your writing will also expose you to words and concepts that will improve your writing. Below, we have included several websites where you can find free academic sources. Additional Citation References Websites Elmhurst University. (2020). “Source evaluation and credibility: Journals and magazines.” Accessed March 18 2021 from https://library.elmhurst.edu/credibility#:~:text=Trade%2FProfessional,the%20most%20references%20or%20citations. La Trobe University. “Finding scholarly sources.” https://latrobe.libguides.com/free-resources Online PhD Program.org “105 Indispensable Resources for Online Academic Research.” https://onlinephdprogram.org/academic-research/ References Radhika, N.S. (13 Jul 2018). “Tips to identify whether a source is scholarly and reliable.” Editage Insights. Accessed 18 March 2021 from https://www.editage.com/insights/tips-to-identify-whether-a-source-is-scholarly-and-reliable. Wikipedia. “Wikipedia is not a reliable source.” Accessed 17 March 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_is_not_a_reliable_source.