What's Next?

You have completed this lesson on citing your sources.

Citing Your Sources

The basic principle for citing your sources is that you must give credit to the people who originated the evidence you use to support your thesis. Although the principle of citing is the same, the details about how you format those citations may vary. Each discipline has its preferred "style" of citing resources. For instance, papers written for a physics class will probably use a different style of citation than papers written for a sociology class.

Using References In Your Writing

As you do your research, you will be learning new information and incorporating the ideas of others into your own thoughts. When you write your paper you must give credit to the sources for the ideas you have used. In short, you must avoid plagiarism.

What's Next?

You have completed this lesson on evaluating your sources more critically.

Following Leads to Other Relevant Research

We suggested previously that you look for books or articles containing bibliographies. Here's why: Use the bibliographies in the items you select to lead you to other materials.

  • Watch for authors or works being cited frequently. These clearly would be important sources to find.
  • It is often useful to look for other works written by the authors cited in the sources you find.
  • Remember that authors of books commonly write articles, too, and vice versa.

Determining the Reliability of the Author

An important part of evaluating the information you find is establishing the credibility of the author

Determining the Currency of the Information

Just like you, the authors of the sources you use must use information from appropriate time periods. They needed to use the most current information available at the time they were writing. Here are some questions you can ask as you look through your information:

Determining the Relevance of the Information

To be useful to you, the information you find must be central to your argument, not merely be on the same general topic.

Does the item contain information relevant to your argument?

  • Read the introduction and conclusion to the item
  • Scan its headings or chapter titles
  • Look through the tables of contents and indexes of books

Does the information presented support or refute your ideas?

Do you have counter arguments for the information refuting your ideas?

Engaging with Your Information

At some point, you must stop looking FOR materials and begin to look AT them to see if they help you support your position and your thesis statement.

You have done some preliminary evaluation of each item you have gathered already, including looking at dates of publication and probable audience for the material. Now it is time to really read the material and evaluate it's usefulness to you further.

Citing Your Sources

Purposes of this lesson:

  • Understand the reasons for citing sources.
  • Identify ways to avoid plagiarism.
  • Identify the reason(s) for using style manuals in citing sources.
  • Recognize examples of style manuals for various disciplines.
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