Finding and Using Sources
(printable version here)
It is important to have information literacy before writing. What is information literacy? It is being not only well read on a certain topic, but also being able to discern reliable, academic sources from unreliable sources. Another significant factor in information literacy is not only relying on what sources are easiest to find, but those that are most helpful and appropriate for your topic. When researching, keep in mind these helpful steps...
I. Take advantage of the services provided by the library.
- Search engines/databases beyond Google. Richmond's library website offers finding aides such as JSTOR, Project MUSE, Academic Search Complete and other sources for academic scholars.
- The Interlibrary Loan service. Do not limit yourself to only resources that are in print in the library or available online. If you come across a source that will beneficial but is not online or in the library, you are able to request and order the source from other participating libraries. Remember it is important to research sources that are appropriate rather than most convenient.
- Research librarians. Librarians are on staff to help with research. Set up an appointment or ask a librarian questions using instant messaging, e-mail, or other easy forms of communication.
II. Judge of the levels of reliability in potential sources.
- Discriminate between different sources. Recognize the differences between weekly periodical quality versus academic quality versus hardcover monographic books. Each of these sources have their merits, but you must recognize the differences between them.
- Check the quality of the sources by reading reviews or authors' webpages. Scratch beyond the surface to find out more about what you are reading and who is writing it.
- Do not mix and match high level with lower brow research. This mix and matching of sources is not very effective.
III. Consider the appropriate use and integration of information from sources into your paper. Strongly supported IS papers tend to...
- Not only provide content from sources but also an analysis.
- Use a variety of sources.
- Integrate sources in a seamless manner; do not just piece sources together that have similar ideas. Make sure the sources make sense in relation to your argument.
- Use block quotations sparingly. A better strategy would be to paraphrase the main points of the section and then add your analysis.
IV. Format citations properly
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