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What is the minimum number of sources for a good term paper?

Researching is the part of your term paper that will take up most of your time—even more than the writing itself. Good research equals a good term paper so spending time on this crucial stage will do well to impress your professor.

If your term paper instructions don’t specify a minimum number of resources that must be used, your professor will expect you to gauge an acceptable number yourself. Here are some guidelines on how to do this effectively.

Overdo your research

Firstly, it can’t be stressed enough how important a whole lot of research is to your paper. If you work out that your paper requires ten resources, (the calculation method of which we’ll discuss later), then tripling that amount of resources is a good starting point. The fact is you aren’t obligated to state every resource you use anyway unless it’s explicit, so it’s better to gather lots of data and only use the references that are the most reliable and most comprehensive of the bunch.

Be a habitual note taker

Get into the habit of taking notes when you’re in ‘research mode’. Too many notes are better than too few, because you’ll easily find yourself getting stuck for writing material and notes are a great way to jolt your brain back into a state of fact finding.

Multiple notes will also increase your ability to determine which sources should be referenced and which should be left out. Remember though that if a source is left out, that doesn’t mean you can’t use that information in your own words when writing.

Keep your fingerprint

A good rule to remember is to never let your sources dominate your paper. Your own voice and opinion must shine through as much as possible, so use resources to support your work, not do it for you. When your paper is finished, read over it again to ensure that your unique style is sufficiently conveyed.

An easy guideline

In conclusion, let’s look at the best way to measure an acceptable number of resources. The simplest way to do this is to work on a general quantity of one resource reference for every two pages. Keep in mind that this is a ‘minimum’ number, so rather go over this number than under, but try not to overdo your referencing as this will render your term paper void of your personal imprint.

Top educational resources

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