Internet Sources for Research Papers: The Good The Bad and the Ugly!
One of the most confusing and misunderstood aspects of writing a term paper is source material. What constitutes a quality Internet source and what is not a valid academic web reference for a research paper is sometimes not made clear by your professor. However, the criterion for a valid Internet reference or resource is easy to remember. There are 3 basic things to remember when you browse the Internet looking for sources for your research papers.
Do NOT use Wikipedia in Research PapersFirst let me clear up a few common misconceptions immediately – 1) Wikipedia should NEVER be used as a source or citation in your research paper. Between the “good”, the “bad” and the “ugly”, Wikipedia is the UGLIEST! Wikipedia has great information but none of it is verified or validated by anyone before it is posted to the web. 2) A professor’s website is NOT a valid academic source. Professor’s have opinions and bias just like anyone else. Remember, anyone can put up a website and claim anything they wish as valid.
So how do you tell a good source from a bad source from the ugliest source of all (Wikipedia)? The three questions you should ask yourself are this: 1) Is this a primary source? 2) Is this a .gov or .org website? 3) Is this a peer reviewed source from an academic journal? If you can’t answer “yes” to one of these three questions, then don’t use the source. Within the next few weeks, we will be posting definitions and examples of these three types of Internet sources that are viable for use in an academic research paper.