A rough guide for determining how many sources needed for a research paper:
|Assigned Length of Research Paper or Project||Suggested Guidelines for Number and Types of Sources|
|1-2 page paper||2-3 magazine articles or websites|
|3-5 page paper||4-8 sources including books, popular and/or scholarly articles, and websites|
|6-10 paper paper||9+ sources including books, scholarly articles, website, and other sources|
|Annotated bibliography||5-15 items including books, scholarly articles, websites, and other items|
From the Golden Gate University Business Library:
When will I have enough background information?
You will have enough when you feel like you can speak competently about your topic, but you will still have questions. You have learned the facts of who, what, where, when, and why. You should be able to answer basic questions about your topic if asked.
When do I seek scholarly information? Seek professional, in-depth, scholarly articles which are reviewed and fact-checked. Use information from scholarly works to draw conclusions and get to the meaning of things i.e. what is important, why it is important, how one event influences another, how one thing leads to another. In other words, reading scholarly works should enable you to answer your research question.
Tip: Read the Abstract or Introduction (or the back of the book) to see if this is a source that is relevant to your project. Use Ctrl-F (or look through the table of contents) to skim through the article.
Scholarly Articles Have These Criteria:
Need more databases? Go to the main page for the Library to explore the entire selection.
|Social Media Outlets||A platform for millions of brief messages on a variety of topics for dialogue between groups of people.||Twitter, Facebook, Instagram||No|
|Online Videos||A collection of educational, inspirational, distracting, and entertaining videos that are shared rapidly and widely.||YouTube, Vimeo||No|
|Websites||Content found online using Google and other search engines. Varies from businesses, to news organizations, to nonprofits organizations, to government organizations.||Amazon, CNN, public libraries, schools.||Yes and no. Varies widely. Research must be done with other websites regarding the source of the information. See this page.|
|Newspapers||Reporting of events to keep the general public informed of daily events, sports, and news. Opinions and public commentaries are included. Print and online.||The New York Times, The Boston Globe.||No.|
|Popular Magazines||A visually interesting compilation of informative, entertaining stories with unique themes intended for a specific interests from celebrities to gardening to cooking. The audience for these is the average person.||Time, Scientific American, National Geographic, People||Rarely. Only when the article is long and well researched and provides source documentation.|
|Encyclopedias||A set of books for information on many or one subject. Most are intended as an entry point into research for a general audience, some provide detailed information about a certain subject.||Encyclopedia Britannica, encyclopedias found on GVRL||Not Britannica. These are meant for background information. Only some specific subject encyclopedias with extensive research in GVRL could be considered scholarly.|
|Trade Journals||Articles are written by those and for those who work in the field. These assume prior knowledge in the field.||Nursing, RDH, Journal of Light Construction||Mostly. Articles over a certain length would be considered scholarly.|
|Research Databases||A variety of information on different subjects. The sources vary from newspapers, to magazines, to reference books, to journal articles, to videos.||Gale, ABC-CLIO, Bloom's||Mostly. Articles over a certain length would be considered scholarly.|
|Academic Book||A book with a narrow focus in which the information presented is supported by clearly identified sources. Sometimes each chapter has a different author, and the editor pulls them all together into a whole.||Nonfiction books in the library and found online.||Yes.|
|Scholarly Journals||A collection of analytic reports that outline the objectives, background, methods, results and limitations of new research written for and by scholars in a niche field. These are peer-reviewed before publication, meaning that an expert in the field has reviewed it ahead of time.||All of JSTOR, Science, Journal of the American Medical Association||Yes.|
|Miscellaneous Documents.||Includes everything not covered above including primary sources found online.||Dissertations, working papers, primary sources||Yes.|