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Choosing the Right Source for an Essay

By Angel831 Jun 21, 2013 406 Words
How to choose the right source for an essay
Jessica Pope
English

Knowing the characteristics of various types of sources will help you select the right ones for your project. There are four questions that should be asked when evaluating an article or a book; 1) When was it published, 2) Who wrote it, 3) Is the coverage in-depth or is it an overview, and 4) Does it provide an answer to my research question? By asking yourself when it was published, it helps you evaluate the timeliness of the source. For instance, if you were doing research on an earthquake that happened 2 years ago, it would help to know that the articles you are reading are not for an earthquake that happened many years ago. So finding up-to-date sources is essential to the success of your research. When analyzing who wrote the article or book, you find out if your source of information is credible. If the author is a journalist for example, does the author consult and quote credible, authoritative sources? These questions help you evaluate the authority and credibility of your source. Is the coverage in-depth or is it an overview? While an overview may provide good background information, you also need articles and books that cover your topic in depth. For example, general encyclopedias provide a broad overview thus may be a helpful source of background information but doesn’t go into much depth, whereas subject encyclopedias focus on one specific area and go into greater depth than general encyclopedias. Does it provide and answer to your research question? When an article is on the topic you have decided to research, it does not mean that it answers the question you are asking. “If, after reasonable effort, you can’t find articles, books, or websites that answer your question, ask a different question. Use the articles you have already scanned to help uncover other interesting research questions.”(Pamela Arlov, 2007, p.g By following the guidelines set forth by these questions you have to ask yourself, you do not leave very much room for error in the success of your research. The four of these questions combined cover all the basic information you need. You may feel the need to ask more questions but these are very important to know and most of the answers you seek should already be covered by these four questions.(Pamela Arlov, 2007)

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