Chapter 4 Hamnes

Chapter 4: What's a Good Source?

At what stage in the writing process should we locate and integrate sources?

  • Starting the paper with sources helps us:
    • Verify whether our work will yield something new
    • Begin collecting information to answer our research questions
    • Provide context for our investigation by relating our study to another scholar's work
    • Borrow methods of investigation or theories that worked for other scholars
    • Identify views, assumptions, or conclusions to build on or diverge from
  • What's most important is that we know what has already been said and can explain how our discussion or approach is different. Ideally, we want to offer readers some news

How do we find and evaluate credible, reliable, and useful resources?

  • Credibility depends on the particular audience and situation
  • Ask a scholar about journals, books or articles that may be credible for your topic
  • Explore a research database, like Academic Search Complete
  • If we're looking for more general sources, like magazine articles or newspaper editorials, we'll search online
  • We might look at company websites, blog posts, or personal Web pages, depending on our purpose
  • But when we view public sites like this, we ask ourselves:
    • Who wrote this? What makes them credible?
    • What are the authors tying to achieve?
    • How do they support their claims?
    • Is anyone profiting from this? Who? How might money-making efforts influence the content?
    • Will this still be here next month?
  • Big topics need big containers

Why-and how-do we summarize, paraphrase, and quote?

  • Scholars use summaries to distill a source-either all or part of a text-into a more condensed, selective version
  • In practice, scholars typically summarize just the parts they need, such as a source's findings or methodology
  • While a summary is a scaled-down version, a paraphrase is typically about the same length as the original passage

* To capture the whole text in a smaller amount of space
* To identify the most important parts of a larger text
* To condense
* To represent a portion of the text in your own words
* To restate an idea in a different style but maintain the original length
* To translate someone else's words into your own phrasing
* To avoid quoting too frequently, in order to maintain a consistent tone
* To express a specific idea verbatim
* To credit an author's original term, phrase, or controversial statement
* To boost your credibility

How can we manage the research process?

  • The process of sifting through sources can be overwhelming, and it's easy to get your sources confused. That's why it's imperative to take good notes throughout the process
  • As you conduct your research, invest time in recording bibliographic information for all your sources: author, title, publication information, and page numbers for any quotations or paraphrases
  • Keep meticulous records. That way, you won't waste time shuffling through papers, trying to remember where you found a memorable phrase

How can we use sources to generate ideas?

  • Play the Believing and Doubting Game with each of your sources to discover new applications and arguments. Get in the habit of asking yourself these questions every time you read a new source
  • Find a source with which you strongly disagree. Take note of everything you find fault with, which will help you clarify where you stand if you're unsure of your own position on a controversy.
  • Create a table that compares and contrasts your sources. You can use the table to do a number of things: (1) to outline the various perspectives; (2) to identify the heart of the matter, according to these sources; (3) to find points that the sources overlook; (4) to highlight central disagreements; and so forth.
  • Pair two sources in conversation with each other. Imagine what the authors might say to each other if they were together. Imagine what new insights they might reach, given the chance to converse. Predict the answers that one author might give to the other author's question's, given their respective positions.
  • Look at one source through the "lens" of another author source. This strategy allows you to do a couple of things: (1) apply a theory that one source describes to another source's examples or case studies or (2) consider the implications of one scholar's argument on another scholar's position. For example, your could apply Darwin's theory of natural selection to an anticloning article, in order to discuss how cloning might enable enable survival of the fittest.
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