It’s easy to manage time when you know exactly how to get projects done. What if you don’t know where to go for resources? Motivation can significantly drop when you don’t know what you’re doing or how to do it. Research papers, especially, can be infuriating when the right resources just don’t seem to exist. Even when you feel you’ve finally made progress and have a few sources that relate to your topic, boom! Your teacher doesn’t think they’re reliable. How are you supposed to write a research paper when the only sources you can find just aren’t good enough? Well, perhaps you aren’t looking in all the right places.
Googling topics for papers might have been okay in high school, but in college professors are much pickier. Oftentimes you are not even allowed to use regular websites; anything with “.com” at the end of it is immediately rejected, especially Wikipedia. The main problem with websites like Wikipedia is that they are not always reliable. They may be biased, obviously leaning towards one side of an argument, or in the case of Wikipedia, anyone could change the information. Now, people have told me in the past that Wikipedia should be considered a reliable source because there are moderators who prevent people from adding incorrect information to its pages. Unfortunately, they cannot catch every mistake/change; Wikipedia is an enormous website, and fact-checking every single detail daily would be impossible. In case you are not convinced, here is an example of Wikipedia’s unreliability: Fan Gets Backstage by Listing Himself as Family on Band's Wikipedia Page
Note: I understand that I used a website with “.com” as a source, but seeing as Time Magazine is a major international publication, its website is considered a reliable and valid source for current events.
Now that I’ve covered what not to use as a source, let’s go into what you can, and probably should, use. Naturally, the most obvious answer is to go to your university’s library. They have a variety of resources, from books to scholarly journals to DVDs. They often have a specific computer or computers designated for their online catalog, which tells the students what books/resources they have to offer, as well as whether or not they are in stock. I had to resort to going to the library (*gasp*) for the Theories of Personality research paper I mentioned in my last post because I could only find one online source that related to my topic. I had much better luck finding sources at the library, and they quickly filled in the blanks that I was struggling with in my paper.
You might be wondering why I looked for online sources for my paper before going to the library. Didn’t I just say that websites aren’t reliable? Well, I did, but I wasn’t looking for websites on Google during my research. I used the databases offered on my library’s website. Almost every college offers access to certain databases for their students. These databases allow students to look through scholarly journals, peer-reviewed articles, biographies, and much more without even having to leave their house (assuming they know their student login information, of course). All of these sources are both valid and reliable, and teachers usually accept them for the projects they assign.
Knowing where to look for research is an important part of time management. Projects such as research papers are overwhelming enough when you know what you’re doing and how to do it; when you don’t even know where to start, motivation levels immediately sink, making it much harder to finish (or even begin) the project. This conundrum tends to lead to procrastination, which is not a good way to manage time.
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