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Evaluate Sources

Evaluate sources for credibility and pertinence:
  • Authors' names and affiliations are displayed. (Where there is no personal author, note the agency or corporation issuing the report.)
  • The information is accurate and conclusions are supported by evidence.
  • The authors acknowledge the research and ideas of others.
  • The information addresses one or more aspects of your topic.
  • An open web source reflects no obvious political or social bias (unless you are studying media bias).
  • You have gathered a variety of sources (books, book reviews, articles, data or statistics, and web sites).
Read and analyze a variety of sources:
  • Read to the end (way beyond the abstract!) and make notes on what you learn.
  • Use your math skills to decide whether numerical data support the narrative.
  • Highlight or transcribe exact quotes and ideas that you want to paraphrase.
  • Record a full citation for each source, and page numbers for each "in text" (parenthetical) reference.
  • Include your own thoughts and perspectives on the source, keeping in mind that at least 70% of your paper should consist of your own ideas, and no more than 10 - 30% direct quotes or paraphrased statements from external sources.
  • As you begin to write, weave your sources into a coherent narrative with comments and effective transitions in your own words.
  • Take care to cite all sources quoted in or supporting your narrative. This will allow your readers to consult the same information you found helpful. (See the "Easy Cite Tutorial for details.)

For assistance with research sources and organization, contact the Library Reference Desk (791-5692, 800-543-9440, For help in planning and writing your paper, contact your professor or the Averett Writing Center

Goals for Oral Presentation include:
  • evidence of research and organization,
  • logical development of a topic,
  • a presentation that is interesting and informative.

As you select sources most pertinent to the topic of your presentation, read them to the end and create an outline of your narrative. Rehearse your oral presentation with classmates until you are satisfied that you have a coherent narrative and can answer audience questions about your topic and sources. Your audience will appreciate a handout with an abstract and list of sources. (Speakers often share their slides electronically following a presentation.)

Your study group can reserve the small (307) or large media room (102) in Blount Library to rehearse presentation skills. Contact a librarian (1-5692, to make a reservation, or ask for a wireless keyboard when you visit the library.

Tips for Selecting Sources

Database search results may include a mix with full content and citations with abstracts. Look for links to full text in HTML or PDF. Most researchers prefer PDFs for references because they are formatted exactly like the original publication, making it easy to cite page numbers. PDFs also include illustrations and tables sometimes omitted from the HTML version.

To determine whether a cited article is related to your topic, read its abstract. Subject headings or "descriptors" are clues to the content of the article. A descriptor will often link to other sources on an aspect of the topic.

If a citation with abstract looks interesting, you can probably obtain the full content with a little more effort, either by linking out to another database or requesting an Interlibrary Loan. Look for "Find it at Averett" or "check for full text."

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