Academic Writing Complete Guide

Purpose and Audience of this Guide
Why read academic articles?
Essay Writing
Report Writing
Oral Presentations
Finding Sources
Good Academic Scholarship
Understanding Feedback
Exam preparation and Techniques


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Finding Online Writing Sources

5.1 Introduction

There are different ways to find your sources. These sources vary depending on the type of assignment you have and the topic that you have selected. If your topic is more traditional, the best sources to use are journals, and books will be easily found in the library. A more innovative topic that relies on company research, it will be better if you use recent journals as well as peer-reviewed web articles, newspapers or even personal interviews as your sources.

online writing source

5.2 Where you can find your sources

  • Module handbook reading list
    This is the first option that you can use to look for information. They are crucial texts that relate directly to your subject and provide an important starting point.
  • Bibliographies
    These also provide important information and every time you read a book or an article, look at their bibliographies. This will show you where the author obtained all their useful information. These sources provide further points that can be used in your paper. If an academic article has been appropriately referenced, it becomes easier to locate these sources through the library.

The above methods provide a way in which you can get full and appropriate referencing before you look at the source. However, sometimes it requires your won search. The library is the obvious starting point to look for sources that relate to your topic.

The library catalog is much helpful especially if you have the information on the source. The library website provides a good resource to search for the author by title if you are using a book or an article. If you do not have a specific article or a book that you are searching, you can use the keywords to search on the catalog. This is similar to when one is using google. However, a catalog will not give you the full text, and as such, you have to narrow your keywords in a more specific or general manner. For instance, if you are searching for ‘football,’ that is too general. If you search for ‘Manchester United,’ it becomes more specific. Other library guides are more subject-specific giving you hints about your topic.

You also have to be aware of the library training sessions that will orient and train you on how to use available sources.


5.3 Electronic resources

When the term electronic is mentioned, people think of the internet. The temptation of using the internet is to go directly to the same sources you use for your leisure, that is, Google or Wikipedia. They are not reliable sources of information because you cannot get credit for information that you obtain from using these encyclopedias. They are considered as unreliable because they are not peer reviewed although some of the information they contain might be accurate.

If you are not sure of where to start your search for the sources of your paper, Discover can offer the starting point. It works similarly like Google only that it contains peer-reviewed and academic articles instead of general internet articles. Simply put, these articles have been made permanently available electronically. You can search using the general keywords and see the articles that relate to your topic. The search results will show you if the sources are available in hard copy or they are downloadable in PDF format.

Using LibGuides enables you to ding the link to discover database, streamlining your search and limiting to the sources that relate directly to your area of interest. If you are searching newspaper articles, the library is laden with lists of available past issues and databases necessary for searching keywords and authors.

5.4 Internet as a source

The Internet is an instrumental source of information during studies. However, its usage is twofold. It can be a source of incorrect facts, misleading information, and poor research. When used correctly, it can go a long way in assisting your research. Be cautious when you are using internet resources. Consider the following important points:

  • The internet sources you use must be peer reviewed
    Any article you use must be peer-reviewed or should come from a reputable and trusted source. This can be a charity, newspaper, or pressure group. Peer review implies that academics or experts in the same field as the author have checked the article. Quality press, financial trades, as well as business articles are some of the peer-reviewed articles that have gone through an editor.

    You can also check the library for peer-reviewed articles and eBooks. The best thing is to use the library pages to search for academic articles instead of using the internet. Other credible sources of information include the government departments, local authorities, major institutions, and trade as well as trade and professional associations.
  • If your search concentrates on an companyor an organization, it is best to use their official websites or third-party sources like broadsheet newspapers. Third party sources are not responsible for original research; bit use it as a premise for a new report. It is advisable to refrain from solely using third-party information for the information that you need.
  • News websites can be useful, but their stories are reported, thus making them third-party information sources. If it is possible to obtain the primary source of information cited in the news reports, then it is better to use it.
  • Beware of the websites that are created to provide misleading information to the reader. As such, you have to ensure that the site that you are using is genuine. To ascertain the credibility of the site that you are using, look at the website classification that is given in the address. If you see:
  • ac; edu – academic
    co; com – commercial or corporate
    gov – government site
    org – a no-profit organization
    int - an international organization
    net – network

  • Every internet source that you use must be correctly referenced

Never in your research, use Wikipedia as your primary source. It is a collaborative site that comprises of collective information by many authors. It is almost like a blog in terms of logic and structure. It allows anyone and everyone to edit, delete, or modify content using a browser interface. This includes the work of previous authors.

Together with most sites on the internet, Wikipedia is not peer-reviewed, and there is not censorship in as far as a contribution and amending the articles is concerned. They sometimes contain information that is not up-to-date, incorrect, misleading and on the extreme, libelous. Only use Wikipedia and other wiki sites as guides to further reading on a specific subject to add more literature to your research. You might be penalized for using Wikipedia as a primary source of reference for your research.

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