Module 6: Searching & Researching

Researching is an important part of college schoolwork. You will probably have to write research papers for several of your classes, regardless of your major. When you write a research paper, you will need to find credible sources and research that supports the argument you are trying to make.

For a source to be credible, it must have three things: (1) reliability, (2) quality, and (3) utility. A reliable source means one that is written by a qualified author, and published by an organization that has a good reputation in its field. Articles that are peer-reviewed can often be counted on to be credible, since a peer-reviewed article has been reviewed by experts in the field. A quality source is one that is impartial, does not make broad generalizations, and is up-to-date so that you know the information you’re reading is still applicable. Furthermore, any outside sources that are referenced in the article should be cited so that you and your readers can find them if they need to. Finally, the information in the article should have utility, meaning that it relates to the topic you are researching and provides adequate detail to support your argument.

Finding credible sources for your papers can seem daunting, but it is actually easy to find useful sources online if you know where and how to look. A good place to start would be your library’s online catalog, which can provide information about physical books, journals, or articles that you can read in your university library, as well as articles and other sources available to you online. Google Scholar is a tool that can be used to find credible academic sources. You can also get more useful search results by learning how to search more efficiently: using advanced searches either on Google or library catalogs can help narrow the results to more useful and relevant information. These types of searches allow you to limit your search by categories such as types of web pages (you may want to search only for government or educational websites, .gov or .edu) or publication date (recently-published articles are more up-to-date than those published several years ago, whose information may be outdated or irrelevant by now). Using these methods and knowing how to select credible sources will make your life much easier when working on research papers for your classes.

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