Research Tips

Academic Dishonesty

What is academic dishonesty?


What happens if I get caught plagiarizing?


Want to know more about the California State University, Channel Islands, policy on academic dishonesty? 


Read more

Scholarly vs. Peer-reviewed


Scholarly journals contain articles written by, and addressed to, experts in a discipline. Scholarly journals present the research of experts in a field, although these journals also often carry opinion pieces or even advertisements unique to the field addressed by the journal. Publication cycles vary for scholarly journals, ranging from yearly to monthly but most frequently they are published bimonthly (every other month) or quarterly.


Peer-reviewed journals (also called refereed or juried journals) send submitted articles to one or more experts for review before deciding to publish them. This review process helps ensure that published articles reflect solid scholarship in a field. Most often, the experts reviewing an article make critical comments on the text, comments that the author must incorporate into the article before its publication.


While not all scholarly journals are peer-reviewed, it is usually safe to assume that a peer-reviewed journal is also scholarly.

What is a primary source?



“Primary sources are original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories.


Primary sources may include letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, speeches, interviews, memoirs, documents produced by government agencies such as Congress or the Office of the President, photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures or video recordings, research data, and objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons.


These sources serve as the raw material to interpret the past, and when they are used along with previous interpretations by historians, they provide the resources necessary for historical research.”  (Finding Primary Sources on the Web, ALA-RUSA, 2008.  Photo, Tap Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa.  Photographer: Jack Delano, Reproduction Number: LC-USW3-2809-D)

Citing Sources

Assembling a List of Works Cited in Your Paper

Articles from journals

Articles from magazines 


Newspaper articles

Primary sources

Other materials 

Help Citing Images

Citing Images:


For help with citing images (art, photographs, paintings, etc.) see the University of Cincinnati citing images resource guide.

Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Lyman...Windsor Locks, Connecticut.Photographer: Jack Delano
Reproduction Number: LC-USF34-41573-D

Help Citing

Citing can be confusing, so we've created a handy guide employing the most popular (read: faculty required) style guidelines just to the left of this box or here:

need to cite

Need/want more? Stop by the library to look at:

The Chicago Manual of Style Ref.Z253 .U69 1993

Publication Manual of the American Pyschological Association Ref.BF76.7 .P83 2001 

A Manual for Writers of Term Paper Thesis, and Disserations (Turabian) Ref. LB2369 .T8 1996 

Also, please visit the University Writing Center and take advantage of their services.

Writing Tips

Boy Scouts at Hunter's Island. Writing to the folks at home, c1912,

Underwood and Underwood, LC-USZ62-107478

Tips for Students Writing A Paper

Plan Before You Write

Brainstorm the ideas and points that you want to make in your paper and try to come up with a tentative outline.  And don't get hung up on the introduction--start writing, keep writing, and the beginning will be found, oddly, at the end.

Decide how you want to use these sources in your paper by working out a balance between the ideas you have taken from other sources and your own, original ideas.

Writing an outline or coming up with a thesis statement will help you to only incorporate sources that support what you are trying to say.

If you plan, you will have time to ask your instructor questions about any confusion you have about plagiarism or the particular citation style expected in the course. 

Take Notes

To organize your research before you start to write, take thorough notes from your outside sources.  Write notes about the source, including how you are going to use that source and the bibliographic information.

As you read through your sources, refer to your outline or thesis to pick out research that relates to or supports your ideas.

Taking notes gives you the opportunity to paraphrase ideas from outside sources that you do not want to quote. Then, when you begin to write your paper, you will already have your source information organized to fit into your own ideas and thoughts. Additionally, you will already have the bibliographic information on hand, so that you can immediately include in-text citations and add the source to your works cited or reference page.

Evaluate Sources

Make sure you know the author of the source, where their information comes from, and the publication date.

Evaluating your sources will ensure that you only include strong sources to support your ideas.  It is especially important to evaluate Internet sources to make sure that those sources are credible and relevant to your paper. 

Cite Sources! (early and often)

When you come to a point that you want to incorporate an outside source, make sure to cite the source immediately.  If you are not sure whether or not you should cite information or whether that information is common knowledge, ask an instructor or librarian what you should do.  Remember, when in doubt, cite your sources. 

Know How to Paraphrase

Paraphrasing is putting another person’s ideas into your own words- paraphrasing does not mean that you simply change one or two words of the original information.  You must think about the idea long enough to be able to summarize it in your own words.

In general, paraphrasing is an effective way to avoid too many quotes with outside sources, which can sometimes minimize the effect of your own voice in the paper. Paraphrases usually transition very well into your own ideas.

Remember, that paraphrases must be cited, because you are still using another person’s idea. 

Know How to Quote

When you quote a source, copy the original wording exactly and put quotation marks at the beginning and the end of the quoted material.

In your paper, make sure to introduce the quote with a signal phrase.

After the quote, provide an explanation for the quote, in terms of how it relates to the rest of the paragraph and the paper as a whole.  Quotes do not speak for themselves.  


This handout was adapted from “Avoiding Plagiarism”, The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Evaluating Internet Resources

Internet resources are without question an integral step in the research process.  But before you go and give your teacher a bibliography full of http:// citations, you’d be well served to first determine whether or not the site you are using is valid, honest, balanced, and, hopefully, academic.  Here are some things to consider:


How did you find the website?

·         How you located the site can give you a start on your evaluation of the site's validity as an academic resource.

·         Was it found via a search conducted through a search engine? Unlike library databases, the accuracy and/or quality of information located via a search engine will vary greatly. Look carefully!

·         Was it recommended by a faculty member or another reliable source? Generally, an indicator of reliability.

·         Was it cited in a scholarly or credible source? Generally, an indicator of reliability.

·         Was it a link from a reputable site? Generally, an indicator of reliability.


Identify the website's domain.

Think of this as "decoding" the URL, or Internet address. The origination of the site can provide indications of the site's mission or purpose. The most common domains are:

.org :An advocacy web site, such as a not-for-profit organization.

.com : A business or commercial site.

.net:A site from a network organization or an Internet service provider.;

.edu :A site affiliated with a higher education institution.

.gov: A federal government site. :A state government site, this may also include public schools and community colleges.

.uk (United Kingdom) : A site originating in another country (as indicated by the 2 letter code).

~:The tilde usually indicates a personal page.



Look for information on the author of the site. On the Internet anyone can pose as an authority.  Heck, even you can start a web site or blog.

·         Is the author's name visible? Does the author have an affiliation with an organization or institution?

·         Does the author list his or her credentials? Are they relevant to the information presented?

·         Is there a mailing address or telephone number included, as well as an e-mail address?

Accuracy and Objectivity

There are no standards or controls on the accuracy of information available via the Internet.
The Internet can be used by anyone as a sounding board for their thoughts and opinions.

·         How accurate is the information presented? Are sources of factual information or statistics cited? Is there a bibliography included?  Does the information include objective data from reliable sources, like the U.S. government?

·         Compare the page to related sources, electronic or print, for assistance in determining accuracy.

·         Does the page exhibit a particular point of view or bias? Is the site objective? Is there a reason the site is presenting a particular point of view on a topic?

·         Does the page contain advertising? This may impact the content of the information included. Look carefully to see if there is a relationship between the advertising and the content, or whether the advertising is simply providing financial support for the page. 


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