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Writing Research Papers: How to Find the Help You Need

Care When Searching Online

Ask yourself the following questions, particularly when evaluating websites.  Unlike books, the internet has no one central publisher or editor who is checking for errors or accuracy so it's imperative that you look at websites with a critical eye. 

  • Is the information current? 

  • Is the information relevant to my research needs? 

  • Who is the author and what are their credentials? How do you know who posted the information? 

  • Can the information on the site be checked against accepted sources for accuracy? 

  • What is the purpose of the site?  Are they trying to sell something?  

There's nothing wrong with using the internet as a research tool just be aware that not everything out there in cyberworld is true or useful.  Now, let's address Wikipedia.  Yes, it pops up first and it's quick but it's also easily edited by anyone. Wikipedia is often a good place to start, but most UNCSA instructors do not allow you to cite it in your paper. Follow the links and sources suggested in the article and, if they are helpful and appropriate, cite them as your sources, not Wikipedia itself.