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A. Finding Sources

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However, there is a significant and important difference between books published for scholarly and non-scholarly purposes. Scholarly books are written with the sole purpose of informing; they offer new ideas, criticize old ones, and present new data or theories relevant to an audience of academic scholars.

Non-scholarly books might deal with scholarly subject matter — sociology, for example, or politics. However, they are written to entertain a lay audience, not to inform a scholarly audience. Scholarly books are often published by university presses Amherst College Press and professional associations American Historical Association , whereas non-scholarly articles are published by commercial publishers Houghton Mifflin.

Avoid using textbooks except for background information. Textbooks are wonderful teaching aids; they condense technical information into easily understandable language for students who are learning that material for the first time. However, they include only that information that is accepted by consensus within a field. As such, you should not rely on such obvious to academics in the field information to create the main thrust of your academic argument. Use information from a textbook only for the background information necessary to build the foundation for your more innovative argument.

Consider the timeliness of the source. Scholarship is a continually evolving body of knowledge, and information that is once groundbreaking may be proven incorrect or outdated within a few years or even months. Always check the date of publication for a source before making a decision about whether or not it is reliable information for your project. By the s and 90s, the majority of linguists had come to embrace African American Vernacular English as a distinct dialectical variation of American English with its own patterned grammatical structures and diction.

Use unacceptable sources and methods in an acceptable way. So far, we have discussed many types of sources that are unacceptable for scholarly writing: However, there are ways to use those types of sources to your benefit without citing them. However, if you find information that you find useful, that information may be cited in a more reputable footnote.

If the cited source meets the other standards for credibility, read that source and cite it. Use Wikipedia as a starting point that points you toward better sources. Seek a second opinion. If you are belong to a college community in some way — as student, faculty, staff, or alumnus — check with the English department to see if you have access to a university writing studio.

The staff at the writing studio will be able to provide you with a professional opinion on the credibility of a given source. If you are a student, show the source to your professor and ask for their advice in evaluating it. Always seek your second opinion ahead of the deadline for your project. If one or more of your sources proves problematic, you will find yourself deleting sections of your paper and scrambling for new sources at the last second.

Evaluate the professionalism of production. Generally, the more time and money that is invested into the creation and publishing of the material, the more likely you are to find reliable information. A poorly designed website or pamphlet, or a site that is covered in unsightly advertisements and pop-ups, is not likely to provide information from an individual or organization invested in preserving their reputation or image.

Look for high-end, professional finishes to websites and print publications. Note that this does not mean that all information found in well-packaged sources is credible. Templates for well-designed websites are inexpensive and easily available. A source is more credible if written by someone with a degree or other credentials in the subject of interest. If no author or organization is named, the source should not be considered highly credible. However, if the author is presenting original work, evaluate the merit of the ideas, not the credentials.

Credentials have never guaranteed innovation and the history of science tells us that the big advances in sciences tend to come from outsiders, not the establishment. Some questions that you should ask about the author are: If the author is affiliated with a reputable institution or organization, what are its values and goals? Do they benefit financially by promoting a particular view? What is his or her educational background? What other works has the author published?

What experience does the author have? Has this author been cited as a source by other scholars or experts in the field? In the case of an anonymous author, you can check who published the website with http: It will tell you who registered the domain name and when, how many other domains they have, an email address to reach the person or organization as well as the mailing address.

Find out when the source was published or revised. In some subject areas, such as the sciences, having current sources is essential; but in other fields, like the humanities, including older material is critical. It's also possible that you're looking at an older version of the source, and an updated one has since been published. Check with a scholarly database for academic sources or an online bookstore for popular sources to see if a more recent version is available.

If so, not only should you find it, but you can also feel more confident about the source — the more printings or editions, the more reliable the information. The institution housing the information can often tell you a great deal about how credible that information is. For example, you should feel more comfortable trusting information found in The New York Times or The Washington Post — two newspapers with proven track records of journalistic integrity and public retraction of errors — than that found in a source like Infowars, which has a wide readership, but often publishes misleading or blatantly incorrect information.

Determine the intended audience. Scan the document in question for tone, depth, and breadth before absorbing the information in it. Are those three elements appropriate for your project? You should make use of resources like Book Review Index, Book Review Digest, and Periodical Abstracts to determine how and why others have criticized the source.

If there is significant controversy surrounding the validity of the source, you may wish to avoid using it, or examine it further with a skeptical eye. Evaluate the source's sources. Citing other reliable sources is a sign of credibility.

It is, however, sometimes necessary to verify that the other sources also show a pattern of credibility and are used in context. If the source's author is known to be emotionally or financially connected with the subject, be aware that the source may not fairly represent all views.

Sometimes research is necessary to determine relationships that indicate the possibility of bias; look up the author and the publishing institution to see if they have been accused of biased work in the past. Be conscious of wording that indicates judgment. Conclusions that describe something as "bad or good" or "right or wrong" should be examined critically. It is more appropriate to compare something to an objective standard than to label it with words that represent abstract concepts — for example, " Sources that apply different standards to those who agree and disagree with them are suspect.

If your source praises one politician for "changing to meet the needs of his constituency" but criticizes an opposing politician for "changing his position with opinion polls," then it is likely that the source is biased.

Investigate the financial or funding sources for sponsored research. Determine the sources of funding for the work to get an idea of the potential influences on it. Various sources of funding can sway the information presented or the way a study is conducted in order to align with their own agendas. For example, the BMJ formerly the British Medical Journal banned all tobacco research funded by tobacco companies in because they determined that the special interests of the research funders would lead to biased, unreliable conclusions.

Possible consequences include misinformation of yourself and others by trusting the claims of a source that might not be reliable, and damage to your own writing reputation.

Not Helpful 2 Helpful 8. You need to make sure the source is accurate and credible. Anyone can write anything they want on the Internet. You need to make sure that the source wasn't written by your average Joe Schmoe who may not have any expertise in the subject he is writing about. What are the top three things that indicate that my source is credible?

Where was the source published? Is it in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal i. These texts will have scholarly credibility. Was the source published on-line? This is not necessarily bad, but it will depend on who published it, why it was published, and how you intend to use the material.

For example, there are on-line journals that utilize peer-review thus providing greater credibility to the publication. But there are many articles published under the guise of scholarly work, by individuals claiming expertise but which are of highly questionable credibility. If you have doubts about an on-line source, you can discuss it with your instructor or TA and you can elect not to use it. You can undertake brief on-line research into the author.

Is the author affiliated with a university or another institution? What else has the author written? Citation databases will also tell you the number of times this source has been cited by other academics, giving you further insight into its credibility. Is the piece timely and appropriate for its field? In some disciplines, material can become outdated very swiftly.


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Credible Sources for Research. MLA and APA Cited. Research. Browse by Subject. We have hundreds of great credible sources for the most popular topics organized in our library for your convenience. Log in to get the most out of CRS. Log Out. You can log out if you want but we don't recommend it.

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Credible versus Non Credible Sources Credible sources are ones the reader can trust. We trust that the author’s ideas are his or her own and can be backed up with evidence. When writing a research paper, doing research, or reading for background information, writers should ALWAYS use a credible source. Citing non-. SUMMARY Find credible sources using tools that are designed to find the types of sources you need. LINKS EBSCO JSTOR Google Scholar Microsoft Academic Search Google Books Google Bing Sweet Search ipl2 PubMed GoPubMed Medline Plus JURN NBER National Criminal Justice Reference Services OAIster Refseek PhilPapers comedyq.ga Scirus DOAJ US [ ].

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When you see a report on television, in a magazine, or in a brochure, you must consider where this information came from, who provided the information, whether the source is credible, who did the study, and whether it is consistent with other research. Evaluating the Credibility of Your Sources Remember, your use of sources is a means of supporting the argument you make. This means that the sources you reference need to be credible .