Working with credible sources will allow you to create writing and presentations that reflect valid ideas and research. Consider the following questions:
- Who created the source? Research the author you are using to determine what background and skills the writer has. Why is that person a reliable expert on the topic? When examining print or online sources, think about the individual, company, or organization that published the material. Is there an underlying motive for them in publishing the information? Use websites ending in .org, .edu, or .gov to avoid commercial institutions.
- How accurate is the information? Confirm your information by checking the facts with other sources. If you find conflicting information, look for a more credible source or determine where discrepancies lie.
- How objective is the information? The way a piece is written also indicates its credibility. Vague or emotional language in the piece may be designed to change the audience’s opinion rather than presenting facts.
- How relevant is the information? The publication date is important because humans are constantly gaining knowledge. Likely, ideas about some subjects, such as global warming, genetic engineering, politics and more, might have evolved over time, so choose a recent source to ensure the ideas are still accurate.
For effective note-taking:
- Avoid copying research word-for-word. Instead, make point form notes in your own words. This helps you engage with the information, making it easier to recall later.
- Ensure the ideas you write down are accurate. Likely, you’ll use these notes later to complete an assessment or write a test. Accuracy is essential.
- Look for key words and transitional terms that determine how the information is organized, what the main ideas are, and what the relationships are among ideas in texts.
- Pay attention to headings and sub-headings. These will tell you about the main topics and their organization.
- Review the beginnings and ends of texts where key ideas are introduced and then summarized.
- Review paragraphs’ topic sentences. Key ideas will be stated here as well.
- Use headings, highlighters, and annotations to ensure your notes are clear and organized for easy review.
To paraphrase means to write a text that is similar to the original, but the new passage must be written in your words. This effective study strategy helps you translate lengthy passages into your own language and leads to greater success when it is recalled later. To effectively paraphrase:
- Reread unclear sections at least twice. This ensures that you choose the most important parts to paraphrase.
- Refer to the source, cover the main ideas, and present the examples in your own words.
- Check to ensure that you’ve maintained the original ideas.
Learning effective study skills will lead to academic success during your time at Virtual High School. In maintaining academic honesty, you will be more prepared for assignments, quizzes, tests, and exams.
This post is part of our Academic Integrity Series.