There are a few things that set academic work apart from the general pieces of writing. Among the many differences, the most important one might be the need for credible resources.
Academic writing will always require the author to support their information with other verifiable research work. In other words, every single detail you enter in your paper will have to be corroborated by sources that are creditable.
As such, it is imperative that you find only quality information when writing an academic paper – and here are some ways to do that.
Time of the Study
Over the years, it has been established that recent studies are relatively more reliable than the older ones. Now, depending on your topic and field, this might vary. For example, if your paper is for a history class – then you might find older research more credible.
On the contrary, if you are focusing on cancer studies, it is recommended to choose the most recent information. According to the academic paper writers at Write my Paper, these sources would contain more recent data. Consequently, they are likely to be more credible than the previous ones.
When reviewing research papers on websites, one of the first things to do is to check the credibility of the author. Most credible website publications will be accompanied by a biography of the author which you can check. While at it, you will want to make sure that the author is an expert in the field of study and what his or her institutional affiliation is. You can also look for other publications by the same author.
If your source is another academic paper or research study, you should still do a simple internet search to see if the author has made other publications in the relevant field.
Avoid Author Bias
Author bias is a term quite commonly used in academic circles. It simply means that you as an author might feel strongly towards one argument – which might prevent you from taking a neutral stand to present findings.
Now, this is applicable not only to you but also to the sources you choose. To elaborate – if you come across a resource published by a university website, then it is likely that the paper has gone through heavy editing and review. This will point towards its accuracy and validity.
In comparison, you will have to be a little more cautious when selecting self-published studies launched by private corporations. These might have different rules and might be putting out information that favors their biases.
The case of scholarly journals and magazine publications might not be so complicated – as these are often peer-reviewed. Regardless, make sure to check the references to ensure that you are not supporting your thesis at the expense of accuracy.
Many students overlook the importance of considering the audience when selecting a credible source. You need to consider for whom the author is writing and what is the purpose of the website.
There is a crucial difference between a journal written for academics and experts in the field and an article published in an online magazine for the general public.
Avoid Sources Using Vague Terms
If you come across resources that use indefinite phrases such as ‘many people believe’ without backing up these claims with citations, then you should look elsewhere. This is especially crucial when looking at online resources.
Most online publications might be focused on readership rather than credibility. As such, these articles might not be scholarly or peer-reviewed.
List of Credible Websites to Consider
It is understandable that the process of literature review can be quite overwhelming. To make sure that your resources are credible, here are some of the websites you can consider to find credible information:
- Government websites – These are commonly reliable as they are highly regulated. For example, the CIA World Factbook or the US Justice Statistics.
- Academic Libraries and Databases – majority of the databases such as Jstor, ProQuest, or Scopus all have publications that are peer-reviewed.
- Research Think Tanks – Examples of prominent reliable research think tanks include the Pew Research Center and The Milken Institute
- Professional Standards Organization – Publications on these platforms such as the American Bar Association and the American Psychological Association are once again verified and credible.
Look at Domain Names
Apart from the aforementioned websites, you might also be performing broad internet searches. When you do this, you will have to carefully consider who the sponsors of the websites are and what is the nature of that sponsorship. For example, there are educational websites (.edu), non-profit (.org), and commercial (.com).
As you can imagine, you might want to stay away from dot-com websites as their primary goal would be to attain more readers. Additionally, also consider whether the site provides references to any claims it makes or answers to specific questions.
If you do not think you can prove the credibility of these resources, it is always best not to include them in your paper.
Remember that when researching, the goal is not to merely find information but to gather reliable and verifiable sources. By following these tips, you will have a clearer idea of how to decide whether one source is more credible than the other.