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Unit 1:  About sourcesUnit 2: Evaluating sourcesUnit 3: Quoting & paraphrasingUnit 4: Reporting evidenceUnit 5: Referencing
 

Choosing sources

This section gives you guidelines for evaluating source material for your written assignments.

As part of your research and reading, you need to make choices about which sources you will use. Your choice of source material should be guided by two considerations:

  1. The authority your sources will carry

    To be widely accepted in the academic community you are writing for (that is, a particular discipline or subject area), your sources and the evidence you take from them need to be seen by that community as reputable and reliable.

    Not all sources or evidence will be seen as carrying equal authority, or as being equally reliable in terms of the information they present. In academic writing, you usually cannot rely on sources such as anecdotal evidence or personal opinion, although they might be accepted outside an academic context in an uncritical way.

  2. The purpose of your writing

    When you are researching your topic, you will read a wide range of potential source material. You will need to keep your assignment topic in mind and select only what is relevant to that topic.

    Much of the evidence you gather will be used to support and develop your own position on the topic. You also need to gather some material from sources that take a different position from your own. You do this to demonstrate that you have read widely in the field and you are presenting a well-balanced treatment of the topic. Module 2, Unit 4: Reporting evidence, shows you how you to use supporting and opposing evidence to strengthen your position.

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