Choosing a research paper source is not just about finding just any article or book written on your topic. The appropriateness of the sources is balanced on many contributing factors. There are many things to be considered before choosing sources for your research paper assignment.
Research papers are aimed at studying a particular topic and finding fresh facts about it or establishing or countering existing theories on it. Studying a topic from scratch is not practical; especially when there is so much information available on it. The existing information on topics is documented in writing as books or journals or filed articles. These documents will provide the information which can help you progress in your research. The main thing to understand about a source is that it should only be used to direct you in your research. A research paper of which a major portion is filled with citations will not be impressive or even acceptable.
To choose an appropriate research paper source for your assignment, you need to first determine the purpose your source will have to fulfill in your assignment. This depends on the type of research paper you are writing. In certain assignments the sources will be used to find information the topic where as in certain other type of assignments the sources will stand along with your argument for support. There would also be cases where you will use a source to prove your statement by using contradictory methods.
In any case, a research paper source should be credible enough to add emphasis to your theory. Whether your theory is argumentative or analytical or yet plainly descriptive, the sources you use should have some authority to comment on the topic. The credentials of the author of the source you choose play a vital role in the impression created by your research paper. The educational background, practical experience in the field of study and the fame in the research area of the subject are factors which can add to the credibility of an author.
The sources you choose should also be relevant to the topic in question. Sources which contain generalized information which also happen to include your topic will not be a very good option of source. Information which is focused on the topic is what you should be looking for in a research paper source.
The period in which the information was published also plays a major role in determining the relevance of the information, when it comes to certain subjects. There are subjects in which old information is classified as ‘outdated information’. Computer science is a good example of such a subject. In such cases, unless you are sure that you need ‘outdated’ data to prove your point, you should not pick sources which are old and does not contain updated data.
Also, remember not to be too much influenced by the sources you choose. You should not sound like you are parroting whatever your source says. Research paper sources work as a part of your research paper assignment and hence, should be picked carefully. A wrong or outdated source can be misleading.