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*Evaluating Sources*

It Really Does Matter

College writing requires a higher degree of quality and reliability from sources than high school or personal writing.  The information you use needs to be accurate, credible, reliable, and timely.  No longer can you do a Google search and use the first pages that you find that relate to your subject.  You need to use sources written by subject experts or those who have done quality research on the topic. 



It is a safe bet that anything from the following list is not appropriate for an essay in a college course.

  • Any site that sells essays or papers.  Even if they provide essays for free. 
  • Content from an elementary, middle, or high school website.  The information may be good, but you are in college now. 
  • Essays or blog entries from other college-level essays written by students.  Think about reliability and authority - you want information from subject experts.
  • Wikipedia.  ANYONE can create and edit content on Wikipedia.  It is difficult to determine whether editors know the content or have any qualifications, and there are people who edit entries maliciously with incorrect information. Sometimes the references on Wikipedia articles can lead you to sources that may be appropriate.  You can also use Wikipedia to get background information on a topic, helping you decide what direction to go with your research.