How to Write a Term Paper: Using Different Sources
When you are writing a term paper, your professor will likely require you to use a variety of sources, including books, magazines and journals, and the internet. Each type of source has positive and negative aspects.
The source material found in books is generally considered to be the most thorough and complete. Books often include more historical information than would be found in other sources, and can provide a deeper understanding of a subject than would be provided in shorter mediums. In order to write a full-length book on a subject, the author likely has extensive experience in the field and has done considerable research. A good book to use as a piece of source material will include extensive footnotes or endnotes, will provide and refute counterarguments, and will strive to present a balanced view of the subject matter.
Magazines and Journals
Because of their frequent publishing schedule, magazines and journals often provide more current information than is available in books. Journals often contain the very latest in research. Because journals are scholarly publications, you can have some assurance that the studies in journals have been peer-reviewed and have some degree of scientific accuracy. Magazine articles often digest the information found in journals and make it more accessible to the general public. Articles in magazines may be less accurate, but more accessible.
The internet is an excellent source for the widest variety of research available on your subject. Unfortunately, not all of the information available on the internet is accurate. Be very careful with internet sources. Advertisers often use scientific research to promote their particular product, and various interest groups twist information to suit their agenda. If you are using the internet as a source, try to keep use the most reputable websites available in your field. Alternatively, use quotations from websites to demonstrate arguments, but not necessarily to support arguments.
There are other sources that you may use, such as videos, photographs, and first-person accounts, depending on your field. It is your job as the writer to determine the reputability of each of your sources. Your essay is only as good as your supporting arguments, and if you are using faulty source material then your research is easy to refute. Strive to use only the best information to prepare your arguments.