Using and sourcing authority references in your blog content

How to find high quality references to your blog

Table of Contents

In a fast-paced media world where everyone has an opinion, evidence-based writing for your blog or website is becoming increasingly important. If you want to post high-quality content, here are some things you need to consider, including where to find authority references, credible sources, and novel insights to back up your content.

If you want your company to be viewed as trustworthy, start thinking about using credible sources to support your statements and back up any claims. Indeed, credibility is the number one reason you should include external references and sources, according to HubSpot(1).

Anyone can quote surveys, numbers, and statistics to influence. But many readers will remain skeptical without underlying proof. And there is a risk that your credibility will be shattered by an opposing and well-referenced blog article on a competitor’s site.

So doing the homework and citing information and references from credible sources can help build a solid foundation for your content and blog.

This blog post will teach you:

  • what authoritative references are
  • where you can find authoritative references
  • why authoritative references are essential for your blog or website content
  • what to consider when using a reference from a credible source

What are authority references and credible sources?

Before we investigate the process of finding credible and relevant sources, let’s define what they are.

Broadly speaking, an authoritative reference is a piece of recognized research. This means that the reference is vetted by experts, professional organizations, and/or associations for credibility and soundness.

A reference from an academic journal such as The Lancet, BMC Cancer, or Scientific Reports undergoes a peer-review process. This process adds an extra layer of credibility to the references published in these journals. Essential details of the study design, statistics, and methods are critiqued. Moreover, the peer-review process is performed by other scientists or experts in the field who have little to no economic or other conflicting interest in whether the results are published.

Next, there are more ‘hybrid’ sources like The Economist and Forbes. These hybrids look like a magazine but often include original research or communication pieces based on original research and investigative journalism.

The same goes for Science and Nature, which lean more towards a traditional academic approach while still catering to a diverse audience. 

Alternatively, an authoritative source could come directly from a deep subject matter expert. A range of experts are available, such as serial entrepreneurs, financial managers, investors, medical doctors, scientists, or even elite athletes who earned their authority through dedication, experience, and hard work. An example would be the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Why authoritative references matter for business and marketing

The above sources are brilliant routes to backing up your content and can serve a marketing purpose. But why are they important? Let’s look at an example.

Imagine you’re a small business building health tech solutions to strengthen public welfare. Most public institutions adopting such solutions make decisions based on precise data. Their expenditure is closely scrutinised, and needs to be justified convincingly. They are less influenced by unsubstantiated claims or appeals to emotion. So you will unlikely succeed if you cannot back up your pitch with concrete evidence backed by credible sources.

The same holds true for the active and informed consumer. Today, more and more consumers are researching products and fact-checking benefits or claims before making a purchase. If you can provide information about your product or service backed by credible sources up front, consumers will feel more confident about making a purchase. Without this, consumers may lose confidence and turn to your competitors. 

We recommend consulting with deep subject matter experts. These experts can often help position products and services within the scientific landscape without overstepping claims.

How to find and check the authority of a reference

Now that we have established what authoritative sources are and why they matter let’s continue with how to find them.

Use databases to search for references

Finding the most relevant references to back up your content is why premium blog content takes a long time to write. Fortunately, there are many databases available that can help speed up the task.

In fact, you can use your keywords or SEO strategy as search terms in these databases.  Once you find an article that seems to match, check the references in that article, and consider the keywords that the article is using to refine your search further.


Databases like JSTOR, EBSCO, and Google Scholar provide an excellent avenue into scholarly research.

Make sure you are confident about where any information you find has come from. Wikipedia, for example, is not a reliable source as it is a user-generated platform. This means anyone can add or edit information at any time.
In fact, on Wikipedia itself, there is an entry on why Wikipedia is not a reliable source (2), which explains it pretty well. 

You can still find some excellent descriptions on Wikipedia that are pretty accurate. Sometimes Wikipedia is a great starting point for further research. The point is that you need to be critical when selecting references for your blog content.

Check journal rankings

You might consider checking the journal ranking if you are quoting from a journal, as this metric provides insight.

First and foremost, higher-ranking journals have extremely selective screening processes. These journals have many scientific or academic teams submitting their work and hoping for acceptance, so their criteria is rigorous. 

All academic journals implement peer-review and editorial processes. Thus, academic publications undergo a vetting process, not for writing per se, but for clear communication, sound methodologies, originality, and, most importantly, that the data and analyses support the authors’ conclusions.

For high-ranking journals, quality and originality tend to be high due to the journal’s position and the opportunity to select from some of the best submissions.  Nature and Science, for example, have journal rankings of 17 and 29 respectively; The Lancet ranks 26.

Further from the top ranks are other journals with a narrower scope, such as the journal PAIN, which sits at 269. PAIN is the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), which publishes original research on the nature, mechanisms, and treatment of pain. Although its ranking may appear low, this is due to its niche focus; it is still highly regarded in its field, coming from a credible organisation.

Not all journals can rank highly but they can still be very respectable, especially if, like PAIN, they are niche or relatively young.

All journals start somewhere and typically reflect the expanding research demanded by our current societal issues, scientific discoveries, and technological advances. Knowledge is continuously evolving, thus, new journals will also emerge to reflect these developments.


Sites like Scopus, Web of Science, and Scientific Journals Rankings are heavily used to check the ranking of journals and the impact factor of these journals within specific fields.

Review the authors, affiliations, and conflicts of interest

Checking the scholarly output of the authors is a good idea when sourcing authoritative references. Why? An author’s credibility helps support your statements. Thus, quoting the author’s work through referencing or backlinking to the original publication can be a great way to share the spotlight.

Typically, the senior authors listed on a research paper supervise the work, so you should determine as much as you can about the authors’ level of expertise regarding the field you’re writing about.


Databases check the authors on Google Scholar, their university, or their research organization homepage. You can also check the reputation of the journal publishers through the citation index.

Lastly, a simple scroll down to the bottom of the article will lead you to a Conflict of Interest section. Check this. Usually, researchers have nothing to declare, but sometimes there can be a financial incentive or motivation for the results and interpretation to land in a particular way.

Although most scientists and academics value their reputation far more than stocks and investments, you don’t want to risk being accused of bias, or worse.

Check the publication date and reference list

The last thing you may need to consider is the publication date. When was the reference published or last updated?

Suppose the research paper was published more than five years ago. On the one hand, this means it has had time to become widely cited, giving further peer-review backing and confirmation of credibility. On the other hand, there may be more recent research which provides fresh evidence and a completely different analysis. 

If the research paper is relatively new, you could rely on the authors’ and journals’ reputations. However, consider asking the following questions to help form an impression when examining the article:

  1. Do the authors have prior publications in the area?
  2. Do the authors reference a range of other works or focus on self-citation?
  3. What is the range of publication dates in the reference list of that journal article?

These answers can be quickly found and will create a gut feeling about the trustworthiness of the reference and source.

Types of article

It is worth bearing in mind that different articles demand differing scrutiny levels and can be approached differently.

The main article types are original research, opinion pieces / short communications, and reviews. All three are excellent sources.

Many novel findings are first published as original research articles and provide a foundation upon which other scientists build.

Reviews tend to summarize the growing trends, agreements, or disagreements on particular topics or findings. They use the results of original research articles to make an overall conclusion or recommendation. Reviews are, therefore, particularly useful for finding digested scientific information.


DatabasConsider publication date and article types when sources your references.

To reference or not to reference?

Whilst a rigorous approach to referencing is obligatory for academic and scientific writing, it is, unfortunately, not in the wider world. But in the age of ‘fake news,’ deepfake technology, and relative truth, the ability to demonstrate credibility has never been more important or under the spotlight. Even Aldous Huxley knew this years ago (3).

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.

Aldous Huxley

Essentially, it doesn’t matter what kind of business you are or what you write. What’s important is that your content is verifiable whenever possible. You must show evidence that your insight, recommendation, and even statistics come from reliable, credible, and authoritative sources. In the end, you will feel more confident too.

At ContentAvenue we pride ourselves on the robust scientific foundation on which our articles are based. With our platform, you can easily browse and buy better content for your business – content backed up by credible science and authoritative references – just as it should be.


  1. HubSpot, 7 External Linking Best Practices for SEO.  November 5, 2021 
  2. Wikipedia, Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not a reliable source.  Last edited July 26 2022  
  3. Aldous Huxley Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2022, from Web site:
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