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Independent and reliable sources are vital for creating encyclopedia articles. Reliable sources allow editors to verify that claims in an article are accurate. The higher the quality of the source for the statement it backs up, the more likely that statement is to be accurate. Independent sources help editors to write neutrally and to prove that the subject has received note. Wherever possible, editors should aim to use sources that are independent and highly reliable for the subjects they write about.

Many of the best sources are not available online, or are only available under subscription. For example, many books are not available online at all, and subscription to academic databases such as JSTOR can be fairly expensive. However, it is possible to use the open web to find many good sources to use in writing encyclopedia articles. Examples of such sources are news stories from newspapers with a reputation for accuracy, books which have previews on digital libraries, and academic papers which are available open access in open archives.

Types of sources[edit]

Many types of sources are available, although some are appropriate only in certain situations.

Where to look for sources[edit]

Evaluating sources[edit]

Issues to consider in deciding whether a source is reliable include:


To help find sources, Wikipedians have developed a number of source-finding templates which link to searches most likely to find references suitable for use in articles. The most well-known of these is ((find sources)), an inline template which can be used almost anywhere. (But please don't use it in articles themselves.) This template allows editors to tweak search strings to find the best match for the subject; see the documentation for details. Alternatively, users who desire more freedom can use the meta-template ((find sources multi)), which allows a choice of search engines.

Example of ((find sources)):

((find sources|human disguise)) produces: Find sources: Google (books · news · scholar · free images · WP refs· FENS · JSTOR · TWL

Example of ((find sources multi)):

((find sources multi|human disguise|link1=g|link2=gnews|link3=ddg)) produces: Google · Google News · DuckDuckGo

For subjects that have several names or spellings, it may be desirable to use more than one search. This can be as simple as using several ((find sources)) templates.