Selecting Information for Your Academic Writing

When writing an academic paper of any kind, you will need to use various information sources for reference. The quality of these sources will directly influence the quality of your work, so you should choose them very carefully.

First of all, you’ll need to determine what sources are considered good and why.

  • Good sources offer reliable and accurate information backed by facts and statistics.
  • If you take information from some scholarly sources (for example, scientific journals) make sure that it’s been published within the last five years.
  • Reliable sources always provide links and references to other places where you can verify the information they offer.

What Kind of Information Will You Need?

There is another important thing that you need to understand when choosing information for your paper. You must be sure that all the information you choose is actually relevant for the essay you are writing.

It’s much more difficult than it may seem, because when you start doing the research, you’ll see that there are tons of facts, quotes and other data that can be used in your work. However, you’ll need to pick only the most relevant of them.

In order to make sure that the information you consider adding to your work actually belongs there, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this information help me to answer the questions set by my topic?
  • It’s obvious that you won’t be able to answer this if you don’t prepare the questions that the essay should answer. This means that you should start with drawing up a detailed plan of the paper.

  • Does this information provide some background or specific data related to the topic?
  • All the information you use for your research should add to your knowledge of the subject.

  • How will I use this information?
  • You may use it as evidence to support your arguments, or as reference that will help you find the evidence you require.

  • Is this information easy to understand?
  • If you cannot understand it fully, you shouldn’t include it in your work, as it will only make things more difficult for you. However, you can use this information as a guideline to find the sources that will explain it.

  • Is this information essential?
  • You will need to determine the questions you need to answer with your work and the goals you want to achieve. If the information you find is relevant to the topic as a whole, but isn’t directly related to your goals, you shouldn’t waste your time on studying it as it will add nothing to the essay.

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