Academic Essays Writing Tips: Where to Get Sources?

Writing academic essays can seem like an enormous burden. There’s just so much that goes into them. You have to put your finest prose on display. You have to make sure that you know your topic and have a thesis ready to go. And, of course, you need to go to work and find quality sources to substantiate your products.

That, interestingly enough, is one of the parts of the process that’s the most difficult and mysterious for some. Here to help you, then, is a guide for getting sources when writing an academic essay.

What’s Your Subject?

It seems like a basic question and, in truth, it is. But it’s also one that’s going to have a subtle yet perceptible impact on not only what sources you use for your paper, but where you’re likely to look. Are you a Bio or Physics major? Then chances are you’re going to want to check out some scientific journals and studies. Are you a Theatre major? Then you’re probably going to want to check out old reviews of shows, studies, and perhaps some old traditions and theories. If you’re and English major, you know you’re going to be including articles from academic journals and, potentially, quotes from a variety of different authors and books.

So, after you’ve considered your subject and likely sources, what’s the next step?


That’s right—if you’re planning on writing academic essays for any length of time, get ready to spend hours in front of a computer researching the different databases that you have at your disposal. Having a good database is absolutely imperative for doing good work on academic essays. This is where you’re going to find the bulk of your sources, from old articles and critical essays to scientific studies and more.

You’re going to want to see if your school has access to databases already. If so, go ahead and use theirs first. In the first place, it’s already included in your tuition, so you may as well make use of it, and besides that fact, database memberships are generally expensive, so using the tools your school gives you is a great way to search effectively and save money.

Finally, never underestimate the power of a good book. While a lot of your sources are going to come from online databases, good old-fashioned paper-and-ink books, as well as magazines and periodicals, can prove to be valuable sources, so check your local library for those as well.