Chapter 4 Katie

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
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