First off, if this is your first exposure to any type of advice about writing academic papers, I want to assure you that while it’s a lot of work to put together a well-cited scholarly work – there are many tools available to you to make it a whole lot easier, such as Purdue Writing Lab and Dartmouth Institute’s websites. However – the most important thing to remember when writing an academic or reasearch paper is to make sure the information your utilizing is credible. To make this task simplier, divide your expectations on a source into three categories: reliability (of the author, publisher and reviewers), the quality of the information, and the information utility (knowing how exactly your going to utilize this information in the context of your own writing).
Searching means finding something, but researching means determined the quality of that something. Like I mentioned earlier – this task can sometimes be daunting, particularly if your trying to hurry through a paper. However, there are many tools and strategies to make this task less burdensome throughout your research:
– choosing to use a category search (yahoo.com) versus a keyword search (google) when appropriate.
– knowing how to manipulate search queries with Boolean logic (OR, AND, using quotes)
– using scholarly search engines to sift through the filth of the internet
– organizing the chaos of many-item bibliographies with sites like. . .
Quick Tip # 3: Using Wikis
Wiki’s can be a great source of information – but they can never be your final source. Instead, use a wiki as a lead to other depots of information that you can cite reliably and do further research on. For the professionals, starting at a source that’s unreliable may seem like a junior-league tactic, but you never know what kind of gold you’ll find if you just do a little creative, structured digging.