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How Many Sources To Include In A Research Paper

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 John Luther   October 11, 2022  Assignment  0

Information sources are the foundation of any research paper. The sources lend credibility and elevate the quality of any research writing. Different disciplines, subject matter, and research areas have other requirements when it comes to investigating & analyzing information sources. Research writing is an extensive process with numerous stages & multiple challenges. And deciding upon and identifying the best sources is one of their biggest challenges.

So, how many sources do you need for your research paper? How do you decide upon which sources to shortlist?  

Before you drop a “write my paper for me” request at a professional research paper service, go through this article. It offers a handful of handy insights.

How Many Sources Do You Need For A Research Paper?

The quality and quantity of sources in research work is a significant metric for evaluating its standard. Any research endeavor is a major milestone in anyone's academic career. Therefore, picking suitable sources is essential as it showcases the extent & thoroughness of one's research. In addition, the right sources are necessary for understanding where your investigations stand concerning the overall research domain and the gaps it fulfills.  

That's a significant reason why the literature review section of any research paper is considered so essential. So, how many literature sources are necessary for a research paper writing? Well, there’s no fixed number or criterion whatsoever! Several factors come into play when determining the number of sources you must add. Let’s have a look at them one by one.

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The Research Problem & Formulated Hypothesis

These two are probably the most prominent factors. The subject matter of your research decides the nature, availability, &, in some cases, the accessibility of information sources.

The Specifics of the Research: The more niche or focused your research, the harder it becomes to find the right resources in the right numbers. If the research problem or hypothesis requires in-depth investigations, your analyses and arguments will indeed require support from credible sources.

The Topic Itself: A heavily technical & intricate topic generally demands substantial research, and extensive, in-depth analysis necessitates linking with diverse sources for better credibility. This does not mean that less complicated issues do not need more credible sources—the more the number of sound sources, the better the quality & weight of the topic.

Your Investigative Capabilities: Research skills also play a big role and can affect the pieces of literature you can include in your literature review.

Research Methodologies, Data, & Study Design:  The nature of research data, the chosen research methodology, and the extent of analysis play significant roles. Not all data will be appropriate for a particular procedure, and certain analytical processes require a specific nature of data. That ultimately changes the number of resources that can be added to a paper.

Secondary study designs such as systematic reviews often need the highest number of sources/citations. On the other hand, experimental and analytical designs generally require a bit less. In contrast, descriptive research designs such as case studies require the lowest number of sources due to their particular focus.

Instructions & Word Count: Last but not least, come to the two strictest constraints. If you are instructed accordingly, or there are restrictions due to the word count, you must abide by them without fail.

All the above factors affect the number of sources you can or need to add to your research paper. Each of the above points to are constraints that you will have to work around & manipulate to your advantage.

Choosing the right resources is paramount. So, if you can't make up your mind or are feeling a bit overwhelmed, it’s best to avail of the services of a professional writing service and ask their experts for paper writing service online.

Here’s some additional information from our side that can aid you.

Sources/References To Include In Your Papers By The Numbers

An article on offers the following key findings.

  • The article reports the results from a thorough analysis of a random sample of 96685 full-text research articles published on PubMed Central between 2016 & 2021.
  • 90% of all published papers had between 8 & 102 references/sources.
  • It considers citing 1 source for every 95 words as the thumb rule!
  • Research articles of top-notch quality generally contain 5 more references than the median value of the following graph.  

Here’s the graph.

More than 50% of research articles contain 25 to 50 resources. The median of the graph above is 39. Any research article needs at least one source citation to be considered legible.

  • How often must you cite in your papers?

Unless specified, you should cite at certain intervals so as not to affect readability. For example, the Nature science journal requires writers to cite at most 30 references in the main body of the text.

  • So, does using more sources make your research paper better?

You might start thinking or even worrying about whether you are referring to too much information from outside sources. Well, for research papers, as long as you are not affecting the readability negatively, the more reference, the better the quality. For example, the article from did further analysis based on the journal impact factor and found that higher quality articles with more impact factors had five more references than the median value.

This directly concludes that a more comprehensive literature review with more sources and deeper discussions is more impactful than the ones with fewer sources.

Evaluating sources' nature is as crucial as finding suitable sources. If you are struggling in that regard, then look for quality research paper writing services. Do not just ask random people online for paper help.

Let's wrap up this write-up with tips on choosing the best sources for your research paper.

Evaluating Sources For Your Research Paper

The Big 5 Criteria is one way to judge the credibility and quality of your sources.

  • Currency

    Determine how current the source is by checking the date & time.
  • Coverage (Relevance)

    Always check how much a source is relevant to your research area and how extensively it covers information & aspects of the domain.

Check out the authorship credentials of the source, such as their qualifications, expertise, and knowledge.

  • Accuracy

    Accuracy and correctness of information in a source are crucial factors. Make sure you can verify the data delivered by the source.
  • Objectivity & Purpose

    Think about the work's purposes and how it can contribute to your research.

Another excellent way to determine the quality & relevancy of sources with respect to your research is by using the CRAAP test. The CRAAP test evaluates the quality of sources by evaluating their currency, applicability, authority, accuracy, and purpose.

Evaluating information from websites can be a tad more challenging than extracting information from standard sources such as books, journal articles, e-books, white papers, etc.

Follow the following guidelines for accurate evaluation.  

  • Currency

    A properly updated and maintained website is a great choice.
  • Relevance

    The pertinency of the information and the target audience are primary criteria too.
  • Authority:

    Always check out the credentials and the objectives of the people behind both the information & the website.
  • Accuracy:

    Are there proper sources and references to the information presented on the website? Can you locate them quickly, and are those sources credible?
  • Purpose

    Last but not least, determine the reason or purpose of the article and the site as well. Look out for biases, persuasion, and emotional language usage.

Well, that about wraps up this write-up. I hope this write-up helps you find & make up your mind regarding the number of resources to add. If you are still feeling lost & overwhelmed, then is here to offer dedicated research writing assistance.

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