Putnam City High School

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Research Tips

Tips to help with your research papers

Evaluating Websites
Tips & Tricks

Answer the following questions to make sure
your sources are accurate and free from bias.

1.  Who is the author? Does the author or publisher have a political or religious view which might affect objectivity or is he or she associated with any special-interest groups?

2.  Are alternative views presented?  Does the author handle both views in the same manner?

3.  Does the author use inflammatory or derogatory language?

– Begin by asking questions:

  • What do I already know?
  • What do I want to know?
  • Who is involved? When? Where?
  • Why does it matter?

– Write, edit, edit again, edit again, edit …

  • Check for spelling errors.
  • Check your punctuation.
  • Use a thesaurus to find a more accurate word.
  • Rewrite awkward sentences to make them clearer.
  • Does your intro contain your thesis statement?
  • Does your conclusion lead back to that thesis?
Documentation and Citation
Avoid Plagiarism
The Owl at Purdue – Online Writers Lab

Diana Hacker – Documenting Sources

Plagiarism is using someone else’s words or ideas without giving credit to the author. In other words, it is stealing — a very serious offense, even if accidental!


  • Take very brief notes while doing research.  Don’t copy whole sentences unless you mark them with quotation marks and cite them in your paper.
  • Document your notes — know where you got your information.


  • Give the author’s name with any quote.
  • If you summarize or paraphrase (put into your own words), be sure to cite the source.

If you have questions, ask your teacher or librarian!  Don’t take a chance on cheating!

Primary and Secondary Sources  

A primary source is original material containing firsthand information about a topic.  Examples include:

  • Diaries, letters, speeches, interviews, manuscripts
  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • Records of organizations and government agencies
  • Journal and newspaper articles written at the time
  • Photographs, audio recordings, video recordings
  • Research reports or articles reflecting the results of scientific experiments or studies
  • Works of art, architecture, literature and music
  • Artifacts such as plant speciments, fossils, furniture, tools, clothing, etc. of the time under study.

A secondary source is secondhand information  written well after the event or time period and attempts to interpret or analyze the topic.  Examples include:

  • Biographies
  • Textbooks
  • Encyclopedias
  • Reference books
  • Critical essays about art, literature, etc.

Excellent websites for primary sources:

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