can I find more sources on my topic?
Try broadening or narrowing the keywords you're using in your
search strings. For example, if you typed "Policing the
Internet to Make Egyptian Society Safer and Friendlier"
and you didn't get any hits, broaden your search string to
"Policing the Internet." Or, if you typed "Policing
the Internet" and received thousands of hits, try making
your keywords more specific, such as "Policing the Internet
and Egypt." If neither of these work, you may be searching
under the wrong keywords. Go to the Library
of Congress Subject Headings search engine to find the
official words your topic. You could also be looking in the
wrong databases. Scroll down the list of the 80+ databases
from AUC's Electronic
Resources and see if another might better fit your topic.
do I know if my sources are academic?
Academic sources are usually written by scholars or researchers
and have references throughout. Additionally, the topic is
treated with depth and the writing style is thick. If you
get a super academic source, it may take you a while to gnaw
through it (i.e., the content is difficult to understand).
usually aren't academic, but they can be highly informational.
JSTOR articles are
probably the most academic, but not necessarily the most readable
everything I read need to be cited?
No. If you can find the same idea in ten different sources
-- that is, if it's a common idea -- it doesn't need citation.
If the idea is unique, however, it does need to be cited.
If you're in doubt as to whether it's common or unique, be
on the safe side and cite it. Referencing your ideas never
hurts your grade, and in fact gives you more credibility.
If you take an original idea and don't give credit for it,
but instead try to pass it off as your own, you are plagiarizing
and will receive an F either on your essay or for your class
got lots of research -- why isn't my essay good?
Essays are graded according to more criteria than just research,
but perhaps even your "strong" research isn't so
strong. Look to see if you're committing the fallacy
of authority. The fallacy of authority occurs when one
believes that just because such person said so, it is true.
For example, just because Michael Jordan says Wheaties
will make you a champion, it does not follow that eating Wheaties
really will make you into a champion. Jordan has supplied
no logic or evidence for his assertion; he instead rests solely
on his authority to make the argument. Even if the director
of the Food and Drug Administration says Wheaties will make
you into a champion, don't believe it. You need the reasoning
and evidence that makes the assertion true. Evidence is what
academic writing is all about.
if I can't remember where I found one of my sources?
Then you probably can't use it. Prevention is the best measure
here. When you find a quotation you like, write it down on
a notecard and keep your notecards together. Write down the
source and the page number (or the site) on the notecard.
Keeping your research organized will make writing the essay
easier, as you can play around with the positioning of the
notecards in a varying visual arrangements. Remember that
each source you cite must contain a
full entry of information on your Works Cited page and
also be correctly cited in the body of your essay.