Finding Reliable Information for Your Paper: A Guide

How to Find Information About Where to Find Information in Your Paper

As the most important part of your article, it’s vital that your introduction makes readers understand why your topic is worth their attention. This is especially true for academic papers, but can also be a challenge for commercial websites and blogs.

Searching for information is a process, so it’s important to keep track of where you find things. Using a research log or research notebook can be very helpful.

Online

Many resources can be found online, including library databases and free websites. The most important consideration for finding information online is to determine what kind of information you need and where it might be located. Identifying keywords prior to conducting a search can help narrow down your options.

When looking for information on the Internet, a website’s appearance and language can be clues to its credibility. Look for information about the site’s authors, especially their credentials with regard to the topic at hand. A website with a clear agenda may ignore or misrepresent evidence that disagrees with its position.

Be particularly wary of health-related sites that suggest miracle cures. A professional affiliation and lack of advertisements are good indications that a website’s content is likely to be credible.

Books

Books are important sources of information when timeliness is not an issue. Depending on the topic, they may contain factual collections of information or they may provide theoretical and/or philosophical foundations for research. Books also often have useful bibliographies and references for further reading.

Books can also be helpful in learning how to conduct scientific research. Tons of scientific data go unpublished and end up sitting on supervisors’ desks, or in libraries, because the researchers don’t know how to write their research findings into a publishable paper. These kinds of books are designed to help you avoid the pitfalls and get your work published.

Some books, such as textbooks, are specifically designed to give an overview of a particular subject and are therefore good starting points. These types of books have specific scholarly standards and editorial processes.

Bibliographies

When you write a bibliography, you must include information about each work you reference in your paper. The way you format a bibliography depends on the style guide you follow. The styles differ in many ways, such as whether you use title casing or sentence-style casing for titles of works and whether you indent the first line of a citation. Check your guide’s guidelines for specific instructions.

A bibliography can also refer you to other resource materials on a topic, such as an annotated bibliography or a chronology. Chronologies provide historical timelines and are useful for placing events in context.

A bibliography can also include other kinds of reference sources, such as dictionaries or biographies. These are great resources for finding information about authors and their publications.