Answered By: Chris Clouser
Last Updated: Jan 29, 2015     Views: 41

Here at IUP we have over 600 faculty members and many of them require written papers. As you can imagine, we have wide variation in what is expected for papers. As far as I know, there is no university-wide (or even department-wide) standard requirement. For your questions, I'll respond with what we generally see as we answer questions here in the library, but the specific requirements are up to each professor. 1. Internet vs. Hard Copy -- our professors are generally not particular about the format of information consulted for papers as long as the content is intellectually sound. They understand that there are good and bad sources in both venues. They would prefer that students use sources that are academically oriented or research based and these may be electronic or paper. Of course, this means that the students must be aware of criteria for evaluating a source and be able to make informed decisions about how to apply those criteria. 2. Primary vs. Secondary -- this is usually not a big issue for our faculty and it would depend on the nature of the paper requested along with how you define primary and secondary materials. They would probably expect a mix of sources. There are many areas where requiring only primary sources would severly limit the available resources (e.g. we once got an e-mail reference request asking what the library had in the way of primary materials on the Imperial Roman Army) and many cases were a review of secondarly literature would suffice. Again, no hard and fast rules, but up to the professor. The faculty are more interested in having the students understand that there are differences between the two types and knowing when each is appropriate. 3. Free Web vs. Databases -- students are encouraged to use the commercial databases, but in most cases, content from the free web is acceptable, too. Again, the professors are more concerned with the intellectual rigor of the content than with where the content came from. With the development of Google Scholar, the free web is now able to seriously compete with the commercial databases. The bigger issue is that students must have an understanding of how information comes to be in either the free web or the databases (the scholarly information chain) and be able to evaluate the credibilty, authority and relevance of those sources. 4. Anti-plagerism sites -- We have access to turnitin.com here at IUP. I don't know of a single professor that requires students to submit before turning in a paper. Some professors will point out the availabiltyof the system and suggest that students check their work before turning it in as a precaution. Our professors are more likely to use turnitin.com themselves in order to catch plagerizers. Students are usually given information about plagarism and its ramifications at the start of courses and are expected to police themselves. Anyone turning in work that later is found to be plagarized will face the consequences. 5. MLA vs. APA -- our students use both of these (and others). It really does depend on the discipline and the requirements of the professor. From our experience in the Library, it seems that APA is used more than MLA, but we have had professors require Turabian style (based on University of Chicago style ), and American Chemical Society style. From our vantage in the Library, it would be best if students could learn to recognize the various elements (author, title, date, etc.) that make up a good citation and be able to insert these elements into a designated framework (element order, spacing and punctuation) for a style. By understanding the basic elements, the students can quickly switch between styles, if necessary.

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