How to Choose Credible Sources and Conduct Research
- For credibility, choose your sources carefully and use only credible sources. The World-wide Web is an opportunity-provider and enabler! This means we have access to the same Internet and info as the world-famous universities in the world. So, use and gain from the best sources! In principle, you want to do these: Choose academic sources over non-academic sources, government sources over commercial sources, professional websites over individual websites, professors' websites over students' websites. Avoid using open-ware, questionable and unhelpful sources: Do not use wiki sources [which can be changed by anyone] or personal web sources [which can be biased and shallow].
- Narrow your web search with key words to find quality sources. When using a search engine like Google, use key words for your topic and main point, plus words like 'authority, academic, scholarly, professional, credible, .edu, .gov, .org.'
- Speed read to evaluate sources. Not all credible sources carry info you need. For research efficiency, use a speed-reading strategy to quickly find out if a source contains relevant info for your topic. If yes, where? Then, you can do close reading and copy/paste the relevant sentences or short paragraphs for direct quotes. If it does not contain what you need, move on to another source. Reminder: You do not have time to read every page in every good source!
5. When doing research away from a computer, use the same method and hand-copy good quotes on sheets of paper, one sheet for one main point. Remember, you want to collect as many relevant and helpful info in direct quotes for your main points as you can, which you can use in your research paper. Putting relevant quotes together and in the right place is a good way to stay organized during the research process.
6. Be accurate when quoting words from a research source, and record the source info at the same time. Use "Quoted informative sentences" (Last Name page)--MLA style. You may also want to copy/paste the link for later consultation when you need to prepare the bibliography entry for the source.
7. For useful hard-copy journal article(s), make a photocopy with the cover which often contains complete publication info. Then, do active reading and marking on the article and instead of copying down the quotes. Use numbers to make clear what main points the marked places can support.
8. For useful books, check them out, if you can, and keep them till you are done with your research paper. If you cannot, photocopy or hand-copy the good sentences with citations. For source info, take a photo of the cover page and the other side of the cover page for publication info: year, company and place.
9. When conducting research online or in a library, it's crucial that you stay focused during the research process. Keep reminding yourself of your research topic, purpose, and main points and keep asking yourself ''What am I looking for?" Use your research question(s) to guide you along, so that you can focus on what is relevant and useful, and will not waste time on what is not. It is even more important to know what to ignore, since what you need for a research paper is limited; while info on the Web is unlimited! Moreover, stay self-disciplined and fight hard against procrastination. It indeed takes a lot of time and effort to conduct research and to complete a research paper!
10. Choose to stay positive! When you complain and doubt about your ability to handle the research, you bring yourself down and create more stress for yourself. Such a negative mindset can only create a closed mind and block your own research and learning, not to mention extra stress! Not a smart choice indeed! Yes, do apply the ideal success-conducive traits and do what you need to do step by step, so that you can gain important research skills and get things done, on time and well! Remind yourself to research and learn for yourself! For sure, knowing how to do research and how to handle MLA documentation can enable you to write strong research papers and to help you reach your academic and career goals!