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Using Sources

Why Use Sources?

We use sources to support our arguments and inform our behaviours in every day life. We read up on how to fix our cars, what brands we should buy, and how to treat that pesky wart on our toe. We share articles from our favourite news sources and organizations on social media. And when someone holds an opinion different from ours, we want to know what information they're basing that opinion on.

As a student, your sources become even more important. As part of the scholarly community within your selected field you will learn from the research and writing (also known as the scholarship) of others that came before you. You are considered a scholar when you build on the research and writing that already exists.

In many ways, scholarship is like a conversation. All scholarship within a research area is connected to what has come before it, and what will come after it. Scholars (including you as a student) enter the conversation by citing the work of others. This helpful video describes how it works: What is the Scholarly Conversation?

Throughout your academic career, integrating a variety of sources within your own writing will be an important skill to develop.

Your sources could include:

  • books
  • journal articles
  • newspapers & magazines
  • websites
  • films
  • images
  • surveys & numerical data
  • experiments & interviews

Integrating appropriate sources into your writing requires a number of key skills:

  1. Evaluation - Being thoughtful about the sources you choose.
  2. Integration - Carefully considering how and where you include sources within the body of your paper.
  3. Citation - Giving proper credit to those sources.


Ask Yourself

  • Does the source provide background information or add to my understanding of the topic?
  • Does the source support or strengthen my research topic or argument?
  • Does the source provide a counter argument that I can use to argue against?
  • Is this source appropriate for academic research?
  • Does the source fit my assignment criteria?