•••••Accuracy and Research Paper Sources••••• The first question to ask about any source is "How accurate is its information?" At the most basic level, sources should be free of spelling errors and use proper grammar. Any author whose writing is slipshod may not be reliable on other matters. Students may not be able to tell right away how accurate some claims are, but there are important indicators. References to other sources within a book or article suggests facts have been verified. The input of editors (especially in print sources) is another sign of accuracy and fact-checking. •••••Research Paper Sources and Objectivity••••• Students should be careful, when doing research, to keep in mind the objectivity of their sources. While it may be impossible to be completely free of bias, credible sources will try to minimize this. Objective authors can still try to persuade their readers, but will use facts instead of opinions and rhetorical devices to do so. Credible sources will also state any possible conflicts of interest. This includes the editorial positions of publishers, or any funding (grants, advertising, etc.) which may influence their perspective. •••••The Timeliness of Research Paper Sources••••• Sources cited in student papers should be as up-to-date as possible. This is especially important when writing essays on current events. But even in academic fields like ancient history, critical trends and methodologies change over time. Book sources usually have a date of publication listed. Internet sources can be tougher to judge. But credible web pages will maintain working links, be updated as needed, and indicate when they were posted or last edited. Essays can use all kinds of print and online sources to back up their claims. Sometimes credibility and quality can be hard for writers to evaluate. But being mindful of criteria like accuracy, authority, objectivity, and timeliness will help students judge their research paper sources wisely.
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