Using published research papers as a reference

When you are working on a research paper, you know how challenging it can be to find useful research to support your thesis. While most professors suggest using original research, original sources can be difficult to find. Secondary sources are much easier to find, especially when they are newly written and published online.

Original Sources are Usually Best

Original sources are always the best because they include the original words of the person who had the original idea. This means that if you want to write a research paper about the Gettysburg Address, you should use the Gettysburg Address. A secondary source would be an essay written about the Gettysburg Address. For a research paper, a secondary source is usually acceptable, especially when you are trying to prove an idea. Using someone else’s research can be helpful in creating an interesting paper, because you can share ideas from people who have proved similar topics.

Talk to Your Instructor

Before you decide to use a published research paper as one of your sources, you should ask your instructor if that is an allowable source. There are cases where it might not be appropriate for other research papers to be used in your paper. Fortunately, there are ways to properly document a research paper in APA and MLA documentation styles. If you do decide to use a published research paper as a reference, it is vital that you document the research paper so you are not accused of plagiarism.

Do Not Overuse Any Sources

If you do not properly document a research paper in your writing, then you will most likely be accused of plagiarism. You should also be sure that you only use what you need to prove your point. Instructors want to see more of your work, rather than work from the sources that you are using. The sources should only be used when you need to show that your thinking is backed up by other people who think the same thing.

Show Your Learning Properly

Instructors want to know that you have learned. They want to see you make connections to prior knowledge and to synthesize your new knowledge and old knowledge into new ideas. Due to the nature of essay writing, you should always be sure that you properly document every source so that you are not accused of plagiarism and expelled for stealing other people’s ideas.