Academic Insights – 9 top tips for... using sources
How do you find and use the information you need in your distance learning course? Here are nine top tips for using sources in this episode of our Academic Insights series - part of our 'Go The Distance' course, giving you the skills and knowledge you need to be a top-class distance learner! For more information about academic know-how, English language and study skills for distance learners, visit us at http-//www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/gothedistance. To find out more about our partner, The Open University, go to http-//www.open.edu/openlearn/tv-radio-events/events/go-the-distance.
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It’s really attractive to be able to write what you think about your own subject. But actually, it’s also really important to justify and show that you have done some additional reading and researching, You’re gaining additional insights. The first rule is to make sure that it fits the subject area. And then you’re looking to make it fit with the question, and to support and justify some of your own arguments and discussions. You can look in books; you can look in journals. You can look in associated material. But it may also be good to take some more current examples - maybe from a magazine - that look at the subject area from a different and lighter context. Usually if you go to your university library, you go online, and many university libraries have chat rooms now, and they will really help you find, if not the actual source, something that is quite similar. Really the best tip is to go to the introduction. Go to a summary. And look at what the paper is trying to say, and then you can actually unpick it piece by piece. It may be that actually the paper really is too complex, because if it’s complex to a native speaker or a non-native speaker, generally it’s something perhaps you should be avoiding. Students should really try to avoid promo material - promotional material that’s dressed up as theory. And particular organizations actually try to launch new ideas, new concepts and to get them accepted as - if you like - solid theory, when in effect they’re really promoting their own new technology. It’s usually quite clear: it doesn’t add value to it, it doesn’t add depth to it, it doesn’t add breadth to it. What it should be doing is actually adding value almost seamlessly to the paper. The extra points is where they’ve added: significant justification, new ideas, being critical in a positive way to the subject area, and really showing that they’ve understood that and dug deeply into the underlying concepts. Go the distance.
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