Know the Quality of Your Source Before You Cite

The plethora of information on the internet that can be accessed with just a few clicks of a mouse may be overwhelming. Typing almost any topic into an online search engine will generate a multitude of various sources in an instant. The ease of research today is especially useful to college students, who can avoid long hours of searching in libraries, but the simplicity in finding information must be balanced with the ability to determine the quality of the source.

Research papers written for college level classes should only use academic sources. A strong argument is best supported by factual information. Finding these sources is the key; the term “peer-reviewed” is always a good start. This means a work written by a professor, scientist, historian, etc. has been read by several of their peers, facts have been validated, and any errors have been addressed. Remember peer editing in junior high and high school? This is similar, at a higher level.

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How to Avoid Plagiarizing a Research Paper

college paperNothing says midterms like long nights in the library and eight-page papers. I remember that gut-wrenching time of the semester. Everyone I knew was chugging coffee in order to stay awake to study for their exams and complete their papers. Though we still have over a month before that dreadful time of the semester, you should be prepared to write that research paper. It’s crucial that you know how to avoid plagiarism before you hand it in, because in the age of Internet research, it’s happening more and more, intentionally or not.

Cite your sources: Cite a source whenever you incorporate ideas into your paper that were not your own ideas or thoughts. There are different ways to format your citations, including APA style, MLA style and Chicago style. Ask your instructor which style is preferred. It’s likely that you will also be asked to use in-text citations, which are generally followed after a paraphrase or a quote, so be familiar with these forms, as well. Read the rest of this entry »


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