What is one strategy for using on-line sources for research for English Composition?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The Internet can be useful for research for essay writing provided you are aware of the major pitfall and avoid it. The major pitfall for on-line resources is unreliable sources. The strategy for avoiding unreliable sources is to make sure you use academic or otherwise legitimate sources. One way to make sure you are using an academic source is to buy an on-line subscription to cites that offer academic papers written by academicians. One such site is WileyOnlineLibrary.com , but there are many that will allow you to read peer reviewed papers for a monthly subscription or on a pay-to-read basis. Another way is to utilize subscriptions to journal sources that your school might purchase for students to access, such as JSTOR.org.

On the other hand, there are free websites hosted by university departments that may accompany the university's on-line or distance education programs. One such is "Edmund Spenser, Amoretti and "Epithalamion"" written by Professor Arnie Sanders and hosted by Goucher College. These are recognizable by the ending to their URL addresses. American academic sites end in .edu, while United Kingdom academic sites end in .ac.uk and Australian universities end with .edu.au; other countries have similar academic Web site designations. The third option is sites like the esteemed Web site eNotes. There are other reliable sites of a similar nature and some sites of a similar nature that are not reliable.

This leads to the question of how to determine the reliable versus the unreliable (and student essays that have been posted for sale on the Internet are rarely anything reliable) Web sites. One test for reliability is to check and compare several sources. If there are discrepancies in information from two or more Web sites on the same topic, then you know either one is or both/all are unreliable. In the event that you can't tell which is reliable and there are no other sources on the Internet, make a visit or a phone call to your school librarian, show the librarian the information and ask for help in confirming what you found. Finally, Wiki sites are not always reliable but sometimes they are. If a Wiki source is approved by a Web site like eNotes, you can trust that the information has been reviewed and is accurate and reliable.

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