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Wyoming State Science Fair: Getting Started

A research guide for Energy in the West essay contest.

Energy in the West Essay Contest

Wind turbine and oil derrickThis library guide is designed to guide you to some suggested databases and resources as you research your topic for the Wyoming State Science Fair. Please visit the Wyoming State Science Fair website for details and regulations regarding the program. 

In this library guide, you will find information about:

Evaluating Sources

Evaluating sources is difficult, but asking yourself some critical questions about each of your potential sources can really help. The following questions are just a starting point, but can help you quickly weed out less useful sources and then more closely examine what you have left. 

How is the source related to your broad topic?

How is the source related to your specific research question

  • Is it directly related? Does it provide context? 

Do you understand the source?

  • Can you summarize the main points and the evidence used as support?
  • Do you need any background information to enhance your understanding?

Is the source appropriate for your project?

  • Does it conform to your assignment instructions?
  • How timely is it? How does this matter to your research question?
  • How authoritative is it? Can you determine anything about the author? The publication it's in?
  • What kinds of bias or authorial intent can you detect? Why was it written and published? Who is the intended audience? 

How might you use this source?

  • As a pathway to additional research, via the bibliography?
  • Direct evidence to support a claim? 
  • As corroborating evidence? To provide a dissenting viewpoint? To provide background or context for your reader?
  • Look at the quotations/statistics/facts you want to use. Are you accurately representing the author's intent, or simply cherry-picking to support your claims?

Citations are Important

It is important to properly cite the sources used when writing your academic paper in order to:

  • Give credit to others' ideas and scholarship
  • Avoid plagiarism
  • Allow others to locate sources used
  • Demonstrate authority of information

Citation elements often include:

  • Author name(s)
  • Title of publication (e.g., articles, journals, books)
  • Date of publication
  • Page numbers
  • Volume and issue numbers (for journals, magazines, and other periodicals)
  • Publisher name and location (for print books and reports)
  • URL or DOI locators (for electronic sources)

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