Writing a college essay can be a hard job, and finding information sources to use is no small part of the difficulties it poses. Not only do you have to find a source containing interesting and relevant information on the topic you write about; you also have to make sure that it is reliable and can be backed up by other authoritative sources. You have to check if the author of the source can be trusted. In other words, you have to do a lot of extra work that is not obvious at a glance.
So, how do you look for information for your essays? In this article, we have gathered some of the suggestions that can help you do it easier the next time you face such a challenge.
1. Do not Be Afraid to Use Wikipedia
Do not be in a hurry to dismiss this suggestion. Although “serious” researchers tend to frown upon Wikipedia as a source of information and believe you should not use it beyond middle school, it is an excellent starting point, especially for the argumentative essay topics you are completely ignorant about. If you know do not know anything about the subject matter and have to gain some basic understanding fast, there is no better way than to check the relevant Wikipedia page. Moreover, most Wikipedia pages have a bibliography section where you can find legitimate sources you can use in any discursive paper.
2. Visit a Library
While many people today tend to prefer online search, libraries still can be extremely useful. Quite often, they can offer you much more information than an average person can find using your typical search engines.
Library databases offer a simple and efficient way of finding scholarly sources on any topics. You may have trouble finding peer-reviewed papers and magazine articles online; libraries make this task much easier, especially if you ask a librarian for help. Even more importantly, many colleges give you free access to newspaper and magazine archives simply for being a student.
3. Use Academic Search Engines and Databases
When one thinks about looking for stuff online, most people automatically default to Google. However, Google is not a particularly reliable tool when it comes to academic research. If you want to find trustworthy sources for your argumentative essays, you will have to use specialized academic search engines. They exist specifically to sift through the content that can be used in full-fledged scholarly writing: peer-reviewed articles, publications in well-respected journals, and so on, without contaminating the results with ads and sponsored links. There are many engines like this: Google Scholar, Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE), Refseek, and so on – you can easily find some yourself.
4. Use Digital Libraries and Databases
Traditional libraries can be useful and helpful, but they have their limitations. You have to visit them in person and wait to be served, or somebody else may be currently using the book you need – you name it. Digital libraries are not limited in this way. They contain potentially unlimited numbers of titles, and any number of people can theoretically use the same title at once. You can work with books from the comfort of your home workplace. Of course, sometimes your university just does not have the access to the necessary database. In such a situation, try contacting one of your professors – they can sometimes arrange things for you.
5. Keep an Eye on Bibliographies
When you research any topic for a prolonged time and go through multiple publications on it, you will soon notice that some titles keep coming up in bibliography sections. Keep an eye out for them – these are likely the books and articles by the writers who are considered to be authorities on the subject. Look through these titles and look for other publications by the same authors – they may come in handy. It is especially true for newer publications – there may have simply been not enough time for them to start cropping up in works by other people.
6. Use Diverse Sources
Do not limit your search to books, journal articles, and encyclopedias. There are many different types of sources, especially today. Most professors and educational institutions will even give you bonus points for using non-traditional types of sources, like video and audio recordings, infographics, archival records, interviews, and so on. Not only do they add originality to your writing – but they also serve as an indication that you have worked hard and allowed yourself to think out of the box.
Working with information sources and finding the right ones is an integral part of academic research, and you have to learn how to do it if you want to achieve any success in college. We hope that these tips will help you find info for your scholarly projects.