Argumentative Research Essay

Determining Sources of Information

For many people, research means nothing more than doing a Google search. To become good writers and perform academic research, you will need to learn about several different sources.  There are numerous library and other sources that you can use when you are performing academic research.

Potential Sources

Some of the sources that can be used to conduct research:

  • Internet
  • Book
  • Encyclopedias
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Scholarly Articles and Journals
  • Government Reports
  • Online databases like EBSCOhost
  • Audio/Visual Sources

As a student at SCC, you have access to all of these sources free of charge on the library’s website by using your webadvisor login. If you don’t remember your login, please ask an instructor.

Appropriate Sources

Here is a brief video on selecting appropriate sources, Scholarly, Trade, and Popular Articles:

Selecting Appropriate Sources


Note- one popular internet source is Wikipedia. Although this site is popular, because it is made up of content that is user-created, it is only as reliable as the individuals who are contributing to the content. As a result, it is generally not acceptable for use in academic research. You will not be allowed to use Wikipedia as a source for this paper.

You will need to use 5 different sources for this paper.  While some of your research can be done on the internet, you must use the library to access at least one source; this can be done at the library on our library’s website. You must use at least one scholarly article and at least one magazine or newspaper article. You are free to choose the rest of your sources, but remember, they must be reliable sources. 

Evaluating Your Sources

Research Source Evaluation Checklist


It is important to evaluate all of the sources that you use in your research. Look at each source with a critical eye in order to determine if it will be a source that you will be able to use in conducting your research. There are four main criteria to use when evaluating a source. 


  • Who is the author and are they qualified to present this information?
    •    Is the author credible and reputable?
    •  Is there reference information to show that the author has done credible research?
  • For websites, is the site sponsored by an organization or is it a commercial or personal site?
    •   Is this a reputable publisher or recognized organization?
    •   Is this a personal website or blog? These are generally not reliable for academic research.


Is the material current?

  •     What is the publication date?
  • Is the material still relevant for its field?
    • Material about technology, current events, scientific discoveries, etc. often change very quickly. An article from five years ago on WWII would still be current, but an article from 5 years ago about advances in technology would be very outdated.
  •   For books, is it the most recent edition?


Is this source presenting information that is unbiased or balanced?

  •  Who is the intended audience of the source?
  • What is the purpose of the source?
    • Is it designed to: inform? Persuade? Advertise or sell something?
  •  Is the author/publisher biased? 

It is not wrong for a source to present a specific opinion or point-of-view, but it is important for you to be aware of this. Being aware of bias will allow you to look at other opinions.


Does this source provide enough reliable information?

  •  Is the information accurate?
  •  Does the source provide enough details and evidence?
  •  Is the material covered with breadth and/or depth?

Finding Appropriate Sources

Everything that you find at the SCC Library should be acceptable, but online resources are a bit trickier. Blogs, social media pages, and sponsored sites are not usually reliable sources. You must look at who publishes the website, and if in doubt, check with an instructor.

Here is a PowerPoint presentation on how to determine if a website is a reliable source:

Download: How_to_judge_a_Website.ppt

This is another valuable resource that might help you evaluate the validity of websites for your research:

Download: WebEvaluationCriteria.pdf

Remember, for this paper, you must use at least five sources. You must use at least one scholarly article and at least one magazine or newspaper article. You may use the rest of your sources, but remember, no Wikipedia please.

Checkpoint #2

List your sources in your research packet and then meet with an instructor to have your packet and your student guide signed.

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