From time to time, you may find yourself using sources off the Internet that aren't available through the Library. That's okay!
However, there are some important things to keep in mind when you're looking at a Web site that you found on Google or through other means and are deciding whether or not to use it as a source. The following criteria, as developed by Jan Alexander and Marsha Ann Tate of Wolfgram Memorial Library, will help you critically evaluate any potential source. You may have seen these criteria in one form or another at some point this semester.
- Who is the author?
- If the author cannot be identified: What organization is the Web site affiliated with? Encyclopedias, for example, do not always make the name of an article's author available.
- Is the author qualified to discuss this topic? What are his/her credentials?
- Does the author hold an advanced degree (e.g., Ph.D.) in the topic?
- If not, has he or she worked in the field for many years with other credible experts?
- Who is the author?
- Does the author cite all of his or her sources? Can you look up each of the author's sources to verify that the source was used properly and paraphrased/quoted accrately?
- The nuts and bolts: how does the spelling look? What about the grammar? If there are numerous errors, the source may not be trustworthy.
- Who is the audience? Is the author seeking to persuade someone who holds an opposing view or writing for people who agree with him or her?
- Is there advertising? The Web site may be funded by the advertisers, which could affect the author's objectivity.
- If the issue being discussed is controversial (like abortion), does the author try to present both sides of the issue equally, or does he or she seem to support one side over the other?
- When was the Web page written or last revised?
- How current is the data?
- Is the Web site still under construction? Does the information seem to be complete, or are there gaps?
- Is the entire work available elsewhere in a different format?
Below, you'll find some Web sites and Library books that discuss the process of writing a research paper; they are intended to work as refreshers only. For more in-depth information about writing a paper, you should consult either your instructor or visit Gallaudet's Tutorial & Instructional Program.
- Annotated Bibliography - The OWL at Purdue (Purdue University)
The OWL is one of the best online resources for academic research tips, covering a wide range of topics from basic grammar to literary analysis and criticism. This page includes information on what an annotated bibliography's purpose is, how to write one, and includes several examples.
- Writing a Research Paper - The OWL at Purdue (Purdue University)
The OWL offers a good, comprehensive discussion how to write a research paper, including finding and evaluating sources, and synthesizing them into a good, coherent paper.
- The Writing Center (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
A good, basic guide that covers every stop of the process from starting your research to revising your final draft in a quick and clear format.
- How to Write a Term Paper (Gale Cengage)
Although this Web site emphasizes using Gale products, it also offers practical advice and lists of questions you should be asking yourself as you put together a good scholarly paper.
Some Library books offering writing help; each link will take you to the book's ALADIN record. Although some of these may seem kind of old, the art of writing good academic papers hasn't changed much in a long time. Also, please remember, these are not the only books we have on how to write; don't be afraid to do a little searching on your own!
- Cite Right
This book is an invaluable resource for understanding citations! Strongly recommended.
- How to Write
A basic introduction to writing in general, this book has some good insights in how to write well and addresses the issue of how to do research in databases.
- This is an eBook; to access it, look for Linked Resources: under "Availability" and click on the provided link.
- How to Write a Thesis
Don't let the title mislead you; a thesis is just a long research paper. Combined with your professor's criteria, this is an extremely useful little book.
- Here's How to Write Well
As well as the usual writing advice, this book contains some discussion of rhetoric and how it can be best employed in writing a good paper.
- How to Write a Better Thesis or Report
Discusses the finer points of high-level academic writing.
- How to Write a Term Paper
More specifically focused; also offers more in-depth discussion of the various steps involved in academic writing as addressed by the Web sites listed above.