What makes a good research paper source?
There are numerous places you can look for information to include in an Education research paper
, but not all those sources are created equal-a quote from Wikipedia just doesn't hold the same weight as one pulled from a textbook. So while it's ok to cast your net wide when doing research, you'll want to be careful about which sources you choose to include in your final paper. Below you'll find suggestions for easy-to-use resources that provide credible information on a wide range of Education topics.
When scholars have studies they want to publish, they submit their work to peer-reviewed journals. Editors will then send this work out to others in the field to get feedback on its accuracy and relevance-basically, the information you find in peer-reviewed journals has been vetted by experts. This doesn't necessarily mean that its right, but it does mean that the information you find in peer-reviewed journals follows standards for research in the Education field. Peer-reviewed journals are one of the best places to look for information, and using papers from these journals will give your research credibility.
There are dozens of Education peer-reviewed journals out there. Some, like Education Studies, will cover broad topics, while others will have a more narrow focus such as learning disorders or early childhood education. Unless you know the particular journal that's likely to have the information you need, it's good to start your search with a journal database. These sites will allow you to search dozens of journals at a time.
Online Education Journal Resources
The place to go for Education journals is the ERIC
collection. ERIC - the Education Resources Information Center - is a collaboration between the Institute of Education Sciences and the U.S. Department of Education. You can use their search page
to look for peer-reviewed articles along with policy papers, books, and summaries of conference proceedings.
Other common databases include EBSCO Education Research Complete
. These sites require a subscription, which means you will likely need to access them through a university or library network in order to see the full text of an article. However, if you don't have a subscription you can still look for article titles and abstracts. You can also use Google Scholar
to search for journal articles, although you'll want to make sure that the papers you find come from trustworthy sources.
The internet can be an excellent place to look for information, but you have to be careful with the sources you chose. As with any topic, the field of Education is full of competing opinions, so you're likely to find websites that offer contradictory facts and advocate opposing points of view. To ensure you're using good material, look for reputable sites run by government agencies or universities that cite primary source material and, when possible, try to find multiple sources for information you plan to cite. When using websites like Wikipedia, you'll want to be especially careful about checking sources and verifying the information.
Below are a list of website where you can find information on various topics in Education.
- U.S. Department of Education: the U.S. Department of Education website has information on national education policy, research, and government spending.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Science Education: the National Institutes of Health (NIH) education resource page has information grouped by topic, grade level, and educational resources.
- Center for Studies in Higher Education: a collection of information on national and international higher education issues.
- Digest of Education Statistics: a website run by the Institute of Education Science that collects national education statistics from preschool through the graduate level.
- Education Week: a weekly newspaper founded in 1981, Education Week has an archive of articles covering trends and issues in K-12 education as well as links to other resources online.
- American Educational Research Association: the AERA hosts meetings, publishes research, and advocates for education research and reform.
- National Education Association: the NAE is a professional organization for people working in education. Their website has information on current issues in education.
- Educational Policy Analysis Archives: the EPAA is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal.
- Institute of Education Sciences: the IES website contains links to research and evaluation of U.S. education policy.
- Educational Policy and Data Center: the EPDC is an international organization that collects and analyzes data related to education.
- Educational Research: this website has research, newsletters, and webinars on educational topics.
- Center for Education Policy: the CEP is an independent policy center that holds meetings and publishes education research. Their website has an archive of all their publications.
- Alliance for Excellent Education: another policy group, the AEE advocates for improvement in national education standards. They publish a variety of reports and position papers that can be found on their website.
It's tempting to skip hard copies in favor of computer searches, but your library is still a valuable resource. A search through the online catalogue at your local or university library will likely turn up books on whatever Education topic you're researching. Because it can be more time-intensive to look through books at the library, spend a few extra moments to craft your search well to weed out outdated or irrelevant material.
If you don't have access to a library, websites like public bookshelf
and Project Guttenberg
offer free, digital versions of books.
The Bottom Line
The resources you rely on for your paper will likely depend on the topic, but in general you'll want to use a mix of sources. Start by looking for general information on government and university websites, then narrow your focus using Education-specific databases like ERIC and Education Research Complete. Once you know what you're looking for, you can search your library's online catalogue to find books and other resources. No matter what the topic is, citing a combination of peer-reviewed journal articles, websites, and books will improve the quality of your research and give your paper credibility.