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10 Tips On How To Find Good Sources For a Research Paper

Language & Lit

❶Because libraries are generally organized by topic, you can often find some real "gems" this way. For example, if you asked what the sea symbolized in Hemingway's story "The Old Man and the Sea," you'd need to consult the story as a primary source and critics' interpretations of the story as a secondary source.

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Tips For Finding Good Sources For Research Paper
Types Of Research Paper Sources
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Primary sources are original, first-hand documents such as creative works, research studies, diaries and letters, or interviews you conduct. Secondary sources are comments about primary sources such as analyses of creative work or original research, or historical interpretations of diaries and letters. You can use a combination of primary and secondary sources to answer your research question, depending on the question and the type of sources it requires.

If you're writing a paper on the reasons for a certain personality disorder, you may read an account written by a person with that personality disorder, a case study by a psychiatrist, and a textbook that summarizes a number of case studies. The first-hand account and the psychiatrist's case study are primary sources, written by people who have directly experienced or observed the situation themselves. The textbook is a secondary source, one step removed from the original experience or observation.

For example, if you asked what the sea symbolized in Hemingway's story "The Old Man and the Sea," you'd need to consult the story as a primary source and critics' interpretations of the story as a secondary source.

An on-line catalog has replaced card catalogs in many libraries as a means of listing and indexing what is in the library.

You use an on-line catalog the same way you use a card catalog: So don't feel intimidated if you haven't yet searched on-line; anyway, the directions are right on the screen. Most of the searches that you do for a research paper will be subject searches, unless you already know enough about the field to know some standard sources by author or title. When using an on-line catalog or a card catalog, make sure to jot down the source's name, title, place of publication, publication date, and any other relevant bibliographic information that you will need later on if you choose to use the source in your research paper.

Also remember to record the call number, which is the number you use to find the item in the library. Magazines are written for the general public, so they contain articles that do not present a subject in depth.

Journals are written by and for professionals in various fields and will provide you with in-depth, specific information. Your professors will expect you to use some journals; in fact, the more advanced your courses are, the more you should be using journal articles in your research as opposed to magazine articles.

How do you find articles to answer your research question? It's inefficient to go through volumes of magazines and journals, even if you could think of appropriate ones. Most magazine and journal articles are referenced in either an index or an abstract.

An index lists magazine or journal articles by subject. Find the correct subject heading or keyword to search for articles. Write down all the information for each article. Check the index's abbreviation key if you can't understand the abbreviations in the entry. Make sure to write down all of the entry's information so you can find the article IF your library carries the magazine or journal. If not, you can use the information to request the article through interlibrary loan.

Specific indices the "correct" plural of index exist for journals in just about every field of study Business Index, Social Science Index, General Science Index, Education Index, and many more , while there's only one major index to general interest magazines The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. Many libraries have many of these indices on their on-line systems; check with the reference librarian if you have a question about indices available on-line.

An abstract is like an index with a brief description of the article's content added. You'll soon see that it's great to be researching in a field that has an abstract, since this short explanation can help you make an early decision about the relevance of the article to your research question or working thesis.

A bound, printed abstract takes two steps to use. The first step is the same--find the appropriate subject heading in the index portion and write down all of the information in the entry.

Note that the entry will also include a number or some kind of an identifying code. Then use the number or code in the "abstracts" portion to find a description of the type of information that's in the article. Again, if an article seems appropriate, write down all of the entry information so you can find the article in your library or through interlibrary loan and so you'll have the information for your works cited or references list at the end of your paper. The most commonly used index to newspaper articles is the New York Times Index, organized alphabetically by subject.

Find the appropriate subject heading and jot down the information so you can find the article, which is usually on microfilm, unless you're dealing with a very recent issue of the Times. Your local newspaper also may publish an index, which may be useful if you are researching local history or politics. Encyclopedias provide background information about a subject. Note that you should confine your use of encyclopedias to background information only, since their information is too general to function as an appropriate source for a college paper.

Specialized encyclopedias and dictionaries provide background in specific fields e. Facts on File and Statistical Abstracts provide brief bits of statistical information that can aid your research. For example, if you're doing on a paper on airline safety since deregulation, it's a safe bet that you can find statistics on airline safety problems in one of these reference books. Other reference books abound e. Take time, at some point, to browse your library's shelves in the reference section to see how many different types of reference books exist and to consider how you may use them.

It will be time well spent. The Library of Congress provides an indexing system; most academic libraries index their books using Library of Congress subject headings.

The Library of Congress publishes a Subject Heading Index listing all of the subject headings that they use. Why bother knowing this information? The Subject Heading Index is a good tool for you as a researcher.

If you're not getting exactly the right books you need through your on-line subject search, check this index to find the appropriate subject heading to use. If you are finding too much information, check this index to see at a glance all of the various headings and sub-headings for the subject. You can get an idea of how to narrow down and focus your subject simply by scanning these various headings and sub-headings. Just note that these subject headings relate to books only.

Magazine and journal indexes and abstracts will use their own subject headings but the Library of Congress headings can at least give you an idea of the types of headings to use.

The important thing to remember here is that, by the time a book is printed, the information is at least a couple of years old. So if you're doing research that requires very recent information, a newspaper, magazine, or journal is your best bet. If currency is not an issue and it's not, in many cases , then a book's fuller treatment of a subject is a good choice. It's also useful to move from virtual cyberspace into actual, physical space and "real time" when you search for books.

That means that you should get yourself into the library. Sometimes a look through the stacks the shelves on which the books are located will turn up additional information that's relevant to your research question or working thesis. The Internet provides access to a lot of information. The ESC Library provides access to a number of useful databases on a wide variety of topics.

The Internet provides access to many on-line catalogs so you can review the types of books available in the field and carried by that particular library. The Internet also provides access to a few full-text electronic journals which means that you can read and print the article right from the screen.

The Internet can link you up with individuals who might have expertise on the topic you are researching. You can find these people by joining electronic discussion groups newsgroups or maillists.

These forums are usually categorized by topic e. By posting a question to the group or maillist, you can obtain useful information from knowledgeable people willing to share their expertise. The one big problem with the Internet is that you sometimes need to sift. You also have to be critical of what you find, since anyone can post and even change anything that's out there in cyberspace, and you won't necessarily know if someone answering your query is really an expert in the field.

But if you persevere, and even if you just play around with it, the Internet can offer some gems of information in a quick, easy way.

Don't underestimate the power of interviewing knowledgeable people as part of your research. For example, if you're researching a topic in local history, consult the town historian or a local resident who experienced what you're researching.

People who have "been there" and "done that" can add a real richness to your research. Who better than a former Olympic athlete to provide information about the emotional effects of athletic competition? You can consult knowledgeable people in print as well. If you find one or two names that keep popping up in your research if others consistently refer to these names and list works by these people in their bibliographies , then you should consult sources by these people, since it's likely that they are considered experts in the field which you are researching.

If your library doesn't carry the book or journal article that you need, you probably can get that source through interlibrary loan. The one catch is that it may take weeks' time to get the source from another library. Starting your research early will assure that you have time to get the sources that you want to consult. One big tip for using interlibrary loan: So get in the habit of writing all of the information down as you compile your list of sources.

For books, write down the author, title, publisher, place, and date of publication. For articles, write down the article title, journal title, author, volume, date, span of page numbers, and the name, year, and page number of the reference source in which you found the article listed. The library needs this information to order your source. One big tip for working with a reference librarian: The librarian will immediately be able to suggest a number of places to look if you tell him that your research question is "Why is smoking being banned in public places?

Background Gathering sources is much more complex than it used to be. Your primary places for locating sources will be: The library Other computer sources CDRoms, etc. The library If you go to the library, you will find that the old card catalog, which only lists books, has been replaced by a computer in most libraries. Is the book or article biased in a particular way? For instance, is the book or article written by a person who is a member of a particular religious group, or a particular environmental group, for example, which would "color" their interpretation?

Does the author agree or disagree with my thesis? Is the information presented accurately, to the best of your knowledge? Periodicals Magazines including Time or Newsweek are called periodicals as they are published periodically weekly, monthly, etc.

Other computer resources CDROM, specialized databases etc Many libraries today, especially if they are larger libraries, have information available on CDROM or through what are called specialized databases. Taking notes, paraphrasing, and quoting Taking notes is an important part of doing research.

What do I take notes on? You should take notes on ideas and concepts that you think are important to include in your paper. You also can include supporting examples that you think would be helpful to refer to. You should NOT write the words down exactly as they appear on the page, unless you are putting them in quotations.

Otherwise, you might accidentally write them into your paper that way, and that would be plagiarism. Be sure to write down the page number that you are working from in case you want to refer back to it. Click here to learn more about Taking Notes.

Using quotes, or What if I want the exact words? If you come across a passage in your reading and it seems to you that the author's language is more accurate, more touching, or more informative than you could create, then you should write that sentence down exactly as you see it, with quotation marks around the sentence s. You must be very careful to record the page number that this information is from, because you will need to include it in your paper.

Quotes should not be used terribly often--if your paper is nothing more than a series of quotes strung together and yes, we have all written those! Click here to see an example and to work more with using quotations. What about summarizing and paraphrasing? Summarizing and paraphrasing are similar to quoting in that you are recording the author's ideas. However, when you are summarize or paraphrase, you record ideas as opposed to exact language; the language is yours. Once again, be sure to jot down the page number--you will need it later.

Any time you summarize or paraphrase, you MUST acknowledge the source of your information. Not only is it a professional requirement, it is a way to avoid plagiarism. How can I find good sources for my research paper? What are some strategies for working sources into my research paper? What is the difference between quotation, paraphrase, and summary? How can I avoid plagiarizing? What are some strategies for improving my grammar and punctuation?

How should I approach writing a literature review at the graduate level? Make a list of research terms you can use when searching in the library or even online.

Start with your core list, but also add other keywords and phrases that you notice as you research. Sometimes the tags are also links that you can follow which will take you to lists of similar sources.

Also, the UofL library offers a list of Research Guides which can help you find useful databases for finding sources. Review the works cited or bibliography section of sources that have already been helpful. The sources they are using will probably be helpful to you also. The reference librarians in Ekstrom library right next door to the University Writing Center are available to help you with your research.

You can make appointments to meet with them here. During these appointments, they can help you find the most helpful databases, decide what sources might be most helpful, and more. What can the Writing Center do to help?

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A. Finding Sources. SUMMARY. Another reason why Wikipedia should not be cited in an academic research paper is that it aims to be like an encyclopedia–a source of reference information, not scholarly research or primary or secondary sources. One must delineate between general reference for general knowledge and scholarly sources for in.

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The experts at Elite Editing show you where to find credible sources for your research paper. Finding credible sources online explained.

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Using sources to support your ideas is one characteristic of the research paper that sets it apart from personal and creative writing. Sources come in many forms, such as magazine and journal articles, books, newspapers, videos, films, computer discussion groups, surveys, or interviews. Once you have learned how to summarize and paraphrase, you need to read Section 3 so that you also know how to incorporate the material into your paper without accidentally plagiarizing. Summarizing While the summaries you will incorporate into research papers are not usually as long as formal summary papers, you will use similar strategies.

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Collecting sources for a research paper can sometimes be a daunting task. When beginning your research, it’s often a good idea to begin with common search engines, like Google, and general descriptions like you can find on Wikipedia. Often though these are not the sources . The standard bibliography resource for students from high school to graduate school has been Kate Turabian's Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, which is an adaptation of the Chicago Style Manual. When listing sources in a bibliography at the end of a research paper.