Discussion Post- Evaluating Academic Sources and Evaluating Academic

This week we are discussing the importance of finding and evaluating academic sources.  Please do the following:

  1. Review: MLA Format (Topic 23) pages 650-686 (you read this last week but review it because it is important information)
  2. Read: Topic 22: Introduction to Research (pages 620-649).
  3. Pay particular attention to the readings 22.5- Finding Sources in the Library (page 626-628) and 22.6- Evaluating Sources (pages 631-632). Review 22.13- Avoiding Plagiarism (pages 646-647).

After completing the readings- which discusses how to locate, identify, and learn to evaluate the reliability of standard academic sources- let’s take some time to review the different types of sources listed in your reading and review how we can use our sources responsibly and avoid plagiarism.

1- So after reading this week’s assigned readings, you should know where and how to find sources. However, let’s discuss some details not included in the text. The best place to find a source will always be in your college library and their available databases. These are free for you to use and you should take full advantage of them! LexisNexis and Ebscohost are two of my favorite academic databases. Google Scholar is fantastic if you are at home looking for some scholarly sources. The FBI database, police files, and court records are great sources. Newspapers and publications can be used but you need to consider whether they are biased or politically motivated (or paid for by certain political campaigns). If you use a conservative multimedia publisher or news station- then it’s likely that a democrat will not take your paper or argument seriously. Instead, using an unbiased article with no connections to a particular political party would give you a better chance of swaying your audience. What cannot be used? Wikipedia is very obvious. Do not use it. Look for an author and date of publication. Be sure that a reputable author is listed and the publication date is updated and recent. Information can change quickly- use sources that are recent so that your information is more relevant to the current day.

2- As discussed in the reading- you can branch out from just online sources! You can use books from your college library, your public library, documentaries (be sure these are unbiased and well-researched/supported), educational videos, literature, cinematic films that are accurate to the story, and interviews. You can use much more than just books- there are many options open to you for those that want to be creative!

3- To review the section you read on plagiarism this week- let’s think about why we are careful about what sources we use in the first place. The clarity and the credibility of any research essay depend on the responsible use of sources. If you use Wikipedia or a source that is not credible or is biased- the reader will not believe your work and it will be disregarded. It is imperative you use sources that are academically sound. Similarly, it’s important to not plagiarize. You must cite anything that is not common knowledge. Every quote must be cited. Representing anyone else’s ideas or data as your own, even if you state them in your own words is plagiarism- whether you do so intentionally or not will not matter. You must include a works cited page and use in-text citations in order to not plagiarize (for every research paper). Plagiarism is among the most serious of offenses within academe because it amounts both to taking credit for someone else’s hard labor and to stealing ideas- the resource most precious to this community and its members. That’s why the punishments for plagiarism are severe- including failure, suspension, and expulsion for students. To avoid plagiarism, make sure to always put quotation marks around any quotation from a source AND credit the source with a citation. When you list any information that is not common knowledge make sure to put a citation in at the end (I will tell you how next week). When in doubt- cite!

Your Research Paper will be due soon. In Evaluating Academic Sources, you must have at least 3 sources and it must be 8-10 pages in length. Think about your topic (a famous artist) and the thesis you created last week. Answer the following questions about how you will find sources and information for your research paper. Make sure to answer the following questions:

  1. What do you think will be the topic/subject of your paper?
  2. How do you find and evaluate academic sources? What criteria do you use in determining whether a source is at an academic level?
  3. What are some examples of different sources you can use in your paper?
  4. How can you avoid plagiarism?

Grading Criteria/Rubric for Discussion Posts:

You must participate in this- IT IS NOT OPTIONAL. These are due each Wednesday.  In order to get credit- you must do two things. 1- Answer the discussion post with your own critical thoughts expected at the college academic level. A minimum of 10 in-depth and profound, polished sentences are expected in order to get credit. 2-You must reply and respond to at least 1 other student’s remarks. Each response must be at a minimum of 3 sentences. For example, “Yes, I totally agree,” or “You make a really good point” are NOT acceptable and will NOT count.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to identify the best documents or sources for your research papers or assignments? This Astute Scholars will walk you step by step through the process of understanding how to examine primary and secondary when working on your research papers.