What is a Valid Research Paper Reference?
Instructors expect students to list valid, credible research paper references. Credible references are those that the student selected from such sources as peer-reviewed journals, the university library, or their textbooks. Although some instructors do allow limited use of Internet resources, students have to make sure that the references they list that were gathered from the internet are, indeed, credible.
All research papers are expected to have certain components. At minimum, a college report should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. More involved research papers such as theses and dissertations should have an introduction, a literature review, a methodology section, a results chapter, and a conclusion or discussion chapter. Regardless of the type of research paper, it should always have a list of references. Research paper references are the sources that the student uses to write the document.
To understand what makes a credible research paper reference, students must be able to differentiate between information and opinion. Anyone can claim to be an expert in a particular field, but unless that individual presents information backed by facts, the information may not be viewed as credible and should be avoided. Many students, especially those in high school, turn to Wiki sites as sources of credible information. Although the information presented in wikis may ultimately be credible, there is no real review process that ensures the information is accurate and backed by solid research. Therefore, wikis cannot be viewed as credible sources for research paper references. Wikis can, however, present an opportunity for students to gather report references. Even though the information in the wiki itself cannot be viewed as entirely credible, students may be able to gather valid sources of reference from the bibliography that was used to create the wiki entry. By scrolling down to the bottom of the wiki entry, learners can find a list of references that were used to draw information for the entry. It is here that students can uncover a wealth of references for their own document.
References should appear at the end of a report and should begin on a new page. Each research paper reference should be formatted in a particular manner according to the style required by the course instructor. Students can buy a style guide or visit their college or university writing lab to learn about style guidelines. In general, however, each report reference should contain the author's name, the date on which the work was published, the name of the book or article, and the publisher.
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