Reputable sources can be hard to find, especially with the plethora of options online to weed through. Unfortunately, many online resources have been composed of non-credible writers or are filled with faulty information. Following these tips can help you avoid these types of questionable sources. Here you will also learn how to properly double-check, cross-reference, and cite sources.
Why to NEVER Plagiarize
Before discussing reputable sources, remember Rule #1: Never plagiarize. Not only can incidences of plagiarism hinder your writing skills, but plagiarizing can also come with dire consequences. Your skills as a writer mostly hinge on how creative you are with your words. So when you just copy what someone else said word-for-word, you come across as unoriginal and as a cheat. Furthermore, punitive consequences of plagiarism include failing your assignment, getting kicked out of school, or being fired from a job. So, to prevent any of those things from happening, never plagiarize! The steps below will help you instead find the best resources and cite them correctly.
1. Finding Reputable Sources
Finding the right sources can be tricky, especially if you don’t know which to trust. One of our favorite resources to find resources is loc.gov. There you can find a large variety of books, films, newspapers, manuscripts, and more. Narrow your search with the WordWise tool. Other resources we like include google scholar which has peer-reviewed articles, Wolfram Alpha which has academic articles, and CORE which has links to full PDFs and text.
Once you’ve found a source that works, be sure to check the domain name of the website it came from, as this can be a good indicator of whether a site is trustworthy. For example, websites with .edu or .gov at the end of the domain name are generally regarded as trustworthy, while sites with .com would require some double-checking to make sure they’re reliable. To cross-reference questionable resources, you can start by finding other reputable sources that have researched the same topic and see if the details match up. If they do, the next step is to check the information for reliability.
2. Verifying Reliability
One way to make sure the information is reliable is to look at the date from when it was published. Some sources may be trustworthy, but the information could be outdated. To avoid confusion, it’s important to make sure the information you use is up-to-date. If available, check the reviews (usually at the bottom of the article) to see what people have to say about the article and/or the writer. Ideally, you’ll see glowing positive reviews praising the accuracy of the information, which indicates the material is most likely reliable.
Additionally, it is advisable to look into the writer’s credentials to determine if he/she is an expert in the field being discussed. You can also check to see if his/her reputation is good in the professional field, which is a good indicator of the trustworthiness of the author. You can do this by searching the author’s name to see if there are any articles written about him/her or you can look to see if he/she has a biography written about him/her. If this shows the author to be trustworthy and knowledgeable, you can feel confident in citing their publications.
3. Formatting Citations
It’s important to give proper credit to the reputable sources you use to recognize the hard work of those authors, strengthen your paper’s credibility, and avoid accusations of plagiarism. If you have a lot of sources to cite, you can make this easier by using a website like http://www.citationmachine.net. This citation tool has the option to choose various formatting options, such as APA7, MLA9, or AAPS Open. It even has extra features like checking your paper for plagiarism.
While useful, keep in mind that citation tools can’t do it all! For instance, you still need to format the citation of your direct in-text quotes properly. According to owl.purdue.edu, when you’re using the format of APA 7th edition to quote from books, you should include the author’s last name, year of publication, and the page number after the excerpt. But, if you’re directly quoting an electronic source, then you just need the author’s last name and year of publication. Knowing the proper citation formats is not only necessary for your paper’s credibility, but for your credibility, as well.
4. Improving Your Credibility
Depending on your credibility as a writer, you can go pretty far in whatever field you’re pursuing. If you find reputable sources while avoiding plagiarism, you’ll gain a good amount of trust from your professors and your bosses in the future. You’ll be more likely to be regarded as a professional who can carry out the proper research and adequately articulate the findings.
Another way to elevate your credibility as a writer is to remove all errors in grammar and usage. Our favorite tool to assist with this is the Grammarly extension. This tool actively checks any open tab, including the one you are using to write your paper, for misspellings, grammar errors, or other blunders you missed. Especially in academic and professional settings, we are judged by the quality of our written word. So a paper riddled with mistakes will make you seem less knowledgeable and less credible.
Finding reputable sources and citing them properly can be a long process, but it can have a huge impact on your future. Plagiarism can come with dire consequences. Writing without credibility could make you seem unknowledgeable. So, it is worth following these steps to ensure you find reputable sources and properly cite them. And remember: The tutors are WorldWise Tutoring can help! Find a tutor today!