Locating Reliable Sources and Citing Your Content

how to find credible sources for content developmentWhen composing unique web content, the most important rule to attracting readers is to ensure that everything you write is true. While it is important to captivate your readership with fascinating facts and insights, if those figures are false, your readers will lose confidence in you and your business. It is therefore imperative that all information included in your content development projects comes from reliable sources.

Identifying reliable sources of information can be tricky. Especially when your primary research tool is the internet, it is tempting to be swayed by the lure of easily-accessible information, even if that information is not necessarily truthful in nature. The key to developing noteworthy content is ensuring trustworthy, informative material.

What does “Reliable” Mean?

There are many different definitions of what constitutes a legitimate piece of source material, many of which will depend greatly on the type of content you are writing. To a certain extent, each piece and different audience will have its own requirements concerning source material. It is therefore wise to consider your own objectives and audience when determining what information may be reliable for your particular content development piece.

However, there are some guidelines that still transcend these particular requirements. A “reliable” piece of information is one that can be considered truthful. It should be from a legitimate source, well researched, and up-to-date.  Reliable information should represent the difference between a fact reported by a well-respected newspaper and a rumour recounted by a friend.

Authorship is Key

The first, and simplest, check of a reliable piece of information is to see if it has an author. Authored material does not need to have been composed by an individual person; it could have been written by a single author, a team of authors, or even an institute (as in the case of statistical surveys). However, in almost all cases, information that is considered “reliable” will be attributed to an author in some way.

Include a Bibliography

It is important not only to use material from legitimate sources, but also to ensure that those authors are given proper credit. Not only is this your legal obligation, but failure to do so can diminish the legitimacy of your own piece.

Ultimately, the bibliography is one of the most important aspects of your research. The bibliography attributes credit where credit is due, while pointing out to your readers that your piece has been thoroughly researched. In the end, your readers will respect your organization more for having done the necessary research by including appropriate citations.

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Kate Boehme is the lead researcher for Content Equals Money. She has a MA in Imperial and Commonwealth History and is currently a PhD candidate in History at Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Her ability to find quality statistics and key sources make the most of any project.

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