Choosing credible sources when writing a doctoral dissertation

Credible sources: where to look?

Finding information for dissertation is the first and absolutely important step you have to take before writing. Today it is not hard at all to find articles and book on almost every topic in the world. The problem is to prove that the source can be trusted or its credibility. Two most used sources of information today are:

  1. Libraries.
  2. Internet.

Using books from libraries or library databases will highly unlikely get you in trouble as most of the the editors have the writers evaluated before publishing. If you are using Internet, however, you cannot be 100% sure.

Which websites is it safe to use?

When starting to look for information, first think of the official organizations and institutions which may work with your topic. Their official websites will most likely have the up-to-date information you can use. If you use the search engine while looking for sources, be careful. The links that appear on top are not always the best ones. You may want to go further and look for better websites than, for example, Wikipedia. A good thing is to take the look at the domain name, it can tell a lot about the website. Here are some examples:

  • .edu represents an educational institution and its publications and can be trusted.
  • .gov stands for governmental websites, which publish only information, trusted by government.
  • .org means that the website is owned by a non-profit organization. It is better to check the organization the information comes from.
  • .com represents a commercial websites. You have to double-check the information on the websites, as such websites can be owned by anyone.

How to determine if the information on a website is worth trusting?

  • Find the author. If the paper is anonymous, it must be a first red flag for you. Try to check it in the Internet, if it is possible to find the writer on some other website. If the name is present, check for the person's credentials and decide if he/she can be trusted.
  • Check the publishing date. For your dissertation you must know when the information appeared and how relevant it is. You cannot afford including outdated data in your paper.
  • Check the owners of the website. If it is not the listed, or the organization or the person does not seem to have a good reputation, it is better to avoid the website.

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