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POS 2041 (Branz) - Term Paper Assignment: Appropriate Sources for College-Level Writing

This is a guide for students in Professor Branz' US Government class. It contains useful resources for completing the research for your term paper assignment.

Choosing Credible Sources

When looking for credible information, most people want sources that are "true" and "unbiased."

However, just because a source gives accurate information doesn't necessarily make it appropriate for college research.

It's also rare to find a source that is truly "unbiased." Everyone has a perspective -- even the most respected journalists!

Always look for THE BEST SOURCE for your information -- not just ANY SOURCE. The best sources are:

  • Well-respected because they have been thoroughly vetted and edited BEFORE publication.
  • Written by people who have legitimate, expert credentials or experience on the subject
  • Consistent with other credible sources on the topic
  • Suited to your need (intended to inform rather than entertain or sell)

Formal vs. Informal Sources

Examine the chart below for a quick guide to the kinds of sources generally accepted for college-level research.

Formal
(Suitable or might be suitable for college-level research)

Informal
(Typically not suitable for college-level research – personal use only)

·         Reputable News Organization

·         Personal Web Site

·         Professional Organization

·         Blog

·         Educational Publisher

·         Wiki

·         Scholarly Journal

·         Online Forum

·         Known Expert Individual or Organization

·         Content Farm

·         Government Agency

·         Social Network

What they have in common:

·         Expertise

·         Editing PRIOR to publication

·         Research /Evidence-based information

·         Intent is mostly to inform

What they have in common:

·         Unverified expertise / amateurs

·         No editing / editing AFTER publication

·         Not necessarily researched; often personal opinion

·         Intent is to entertain or sell

Subject Guide

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Regina Seguin (Valencia College)
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Valencia College - West Campus
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