Frequently Asked Questions

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • What is the difference between a position paper and a persuasive paper?

    A position paper proves a thesis. A persuasive paper makes an argument. They have different objectives and purposes. Persuasive papers are done for rhetorical purposes, to convince the reader to agree with the writer. A position paper proposes a solution to a problem based on evidence.
  • Can I use the first person point of view when I write a research paper?

    Using the first person point of view when writing formal research papers is not generally an accepted practice in academia because the writer wants to remain objective and detached, deriving conclusions based solely on factual evidence and research rather than the writer’s personal experience or opinions. However, there are many valid justifications for using the first person and it is the prerogative of the teacher and circumstances of the assignment that would determine whether the first person point of view is acceptable.
  • Do I have to include footnotes in my paper?

    The MLA style does not use footnotes or endnotes, but rather uses inserted in-text parenthetical citations which contain the author’s last name and page number where the information was found. The parenthetical citation refers the reader to the Works Cited page.
  • What’s the difference between a Works Cited page and a Working Bibliography?

    A working bibliography is a list of sources you are consulting and reading for information on your topic. You may be taking notes from these sources, deriving background information, and using them
    to find further sources. A working bibliography is a list that grows as you do your research. It is typed with complete bibliographic information in MLA form. This list may also be referred to as a Works Consulted list.

    On the other hand, a Works Cited page is a list of sources that you actually made reference to with a parenthetical citation inserted in your text. So, while you may have consulted many sources in completing your research, you may have only cited those with the most compelling evidence. Your teacher may have specific instructions about how many sources you are required to use, as well as how many sources you are required to cite.
  • What about Wikipedia?

    Wikipedia is a user-generated encyclopedia accessible on the Internet. It started in 2001 with a goal to collect the world’s universal knowledge and today contains more than 3,300,000 articles in English. Although it strives for verifiable accuracy and neutral point of view, as yet, there are no official attempts to guarantee quality. In fact, Wikipedia itself claims and promotes the fact that it is “allowed to be imperfect”. Traditional print reference sources such as World Book or Britannica have boards of professional researchers and scholars who monitor the content. Yes, there is a great deal of reliable and useful information in Wikipedia, and it is an appropriate source to go to for a broad overview of your topic. But Wikipedia should not be used as an authoritative reference source for research papers or class projects. As for general encyclopedias, we use them mostly for background information anyway, and they should not be cited in your papers either.

    Any use of Wikipedia or other online user-generated content is at the discretion of your teacher.

Helpful Links

List of 10 frequently asked questions.

  • Types of Sources

    Understanding sources
    When doing research papers and project, students may be required to locate and use primary documents. Also in AP courses, students are given DBQ’s (document based questions) to demonstrate their understanding of events and issues. It is important to know the origin and intention of sources used in all types of research.

    Primary sources
    In scholarship, a document or record containing an eyewitness account, first-hand information or original data is a Primary source. These include original manuscripts, diaries, memoirs, letters, journals, photographs, drawings, posters, film footage, sheet music, songs, interviews, government documents, public records, eyewitness accounts, newspaper clippings, etc. Primary documents are created during the time of an event by those who were present.

    Secondary sources
    Any published or unpublished work that is one-step removed from original source, usually describing, summarizing, analyzing, evaluating, or based on primary source materials, is a secondary source. For example, a review, critical analysis, second-person account, biographical study or history book, are Secondary sources. These are usually authored by experts—historians, biographers, scientist—and are therefore reliable and credible. Scholarly journals, especially peer-reviewed journals, are secondary sources.

    Tertiary sources
    A written work, such as a chapter in a textbook or entry in a reference book, based entirely on secondary sources, rather than on original research involving primary documents. Whether a source is secondary or tertiary can be determined by examining the bibliography (if one is provided). Another clue is that secondary sources are almost always written by experts, but tertiary sources may be written by staff writers or journalists who have an interest in the topic, but are not scholars on the subject. Popular magazines and Wikipedia provide useful, easy to understand, tertiary sources.

    Definitions adapted from ODLIS
  • Avoiding Plagiarism 

    The K-Book defines plagiarism as “directly or indirectly copying someone else’s words or ideas without crediting the author.” It is one of the primary forms of academic dishonesty. Plagiarism is cheating and has serious academic and disciplinary consequences.
    The best way to avoid plagiarism is to always cite your sources, giving credit to others for their ideas and words. To properly use material from your sources in your own paper while avoiding plagiarism, use the following methods:

    Remember that when a fact or idea is widely accepted and found in more than one source, chances are that it is “common knowledge” and therefore does not need to be cited.
  • The Kiski School Composition Format 

    Every significant writing project that is completed for class at the Kiski School will follow a simple format. What follows are the guidelines for a completed project in physical terms:

    - Margins will be 1” on all sides
    - Heading will be three lines, single spaced in the upper right
    - Your First and Last name
    - The date the paper is turned in (day/month/year)
    - Course name and class period
    - Below the heading, two spaces will be skipped, the title will appear centered on the next line
    - The title will use correct capitalization rules, meaning that every important word is capitalized while conjunctions and prepositions are only capitalized if they begin or end the title. Titles will not be underlined or placed in italics.
    - All text for the paper, including the title, will be in Times New Roman 12 point
    - The body of the paper will be double-spaced throughout, including quotations, outline, and the works cited page. Do not single space any part of your paper. Do not add extra space between paragraphs.
    - The proper indent for a paragraph is ½” or 5 spaces (not a regular tab)
    - The citation format is MLA style
    - Any quotes longer than three lines of text will be block quoted
    - Number all pages consecutively throughout the paper in the upper right-hand corner. Type your last name before the page number. (Use the “Insert” tab in Microsoft Word.)

    See the Sample Research paper
  • Academic Honesty and Acceptable Use Policy

    Academic Honesty
    Academic integrity can be defined as the adherence to personal responsibility, the respect for the work and ideas of others, and the realization that honesty comes before personal advancement. Kiski is committed to maintaining an environment of academic honesty and fostering an appreciation for this ideal in our students.

    Cheating and plagiarism represent the two primary forms of academic dishonesty. Cheating is copying someone else’s work or giving or receiving assistance on an exam, test, paper, or other academic exercise in an effort to deceive the teacher into thinking the work is one’s own. Plagiarism is directly or indirectly copying someone else’s words or ideas without crediting the author. Submitting downloaded materials from the Internet without crediting the source is also plagiarism.

    Students who violate Kiski’s academic honesty standards will face academic and/or disciplinary consequences, up to and including dismissal.

    Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources Policy
    Kiski maintains a computer network for academic purposes and for school-related communications. The policies outlined below apply to all users who access Kiski’s network or equipment using school-owned or personally owned equipment, including wireless devices. Users in violation of these rules are subject to a full range of sanctions, including, but not limited to, the loss of network privileges, disciplinary action, and dismissal. Some violations may constitute criminal offenses which could lead to prosecution under appropriate state and federal laws.

    -  Using the School’s network or equipment to create, access, download, store, send, or print materials that are illegal, offensive, harassing, intimidating, discriminatory, pornographic, or obscene is prohibited.
    -  Frivolous or improper use of network resources is prohibited, including playing games or accessing social networking sites during the school day or during study hall.
    -  Any computer connected to the Kiski network must have anti-virus software installed. Deliberately spreading a computer virus will be considered vandalism.
    -  Using the network for commercial purposes or in support of illegal activities is prohibited.
    -  Improper use or distribution of information is prohibited. This includes copyright violations such as software piracy, as well as plagiarism of online resources.
    -  Attempting to subvert network security, to impair network functionality, or bypass a restriction set by administrators is prohibited.
    -  No one may attach a server, switch, router, or wireless access point to the campus network without prior authorization. Such devices may be immediately confiscated upon discovery, and users will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.
    -  Computer accounts, passwords, security codes, and other types of authorization are assigned to individual users and may not be shared with or used by others. Kiski, at its sole discretion, reserves the right to bypass such passwords and to access the system.
    -  Posting information that is potentially damaging to oneself, to others or to the School is not permitted. This includes information posted to social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
    -  Deliberate actions which degrade the performance of the School’s network, or deprive other users’ access are prohibited. The School reserves the right to limit or prevent uses that require excessive bandwidth.
    -  Users should not attempt to fix, re-configure, disconnect, or relocate any of the School's technology equipment.
    -  Kiski network resources are considered property of the School and may be monitored at any time. All information created or stored using network resources are subject to review or seizure by the School.
  • Evaluating Information and Sources

    One of the most important things to consider when doing research is to use valid and trustworthy sources. In some cases, your teacher will ask you to use particular sources for the particular assignment. Often, you will be asked to use a number of different kinds of sources—perhaps the requirement is to use a number of articles from periodicals along with other print and online sources.

    Valid information can come in a variety of formats—books, databases, web sites, periodicals, blogs, wikis, etc. But not all information will be relevant or reliable for your research.

    Use the following criteria when looking at the sources you find on your topic.

    Authority— Who is the author of the work? What are his or her credentials? Is the publisher contact information available? When an author is willing to take credit for his work, it is a good indication that he or she has something valid to say. It’s very important if you want to quote someone, that you know that they are an expert, a scholar or a professional.

    Accuracy— Does the source cite facts, statistics, or research findings? Is there a bibliography listing sources for further reading or study? Are there references to other sources? Are there quotations,
    footnotes, endnotes, citations? These would all indicate that the author has done research to come to the findings he is publishing.

    Timeliness— How current is your source? When was this information published? Is there an update available? Was it published first in print or online? If it is a web site, is there a “last updated” date?
    Some subjects require more current information than others. If your topic is in the scientific or technology fields, you need very up-to-date information because these are fields that change rapidly. If,
    however you are researching something in the humanities or social science, perhaps your sources needn’t be quite as current.

    Suitability/Relevance— Does the source actually pertain to your topic? Does it address your questions? How can you tell? Is it well-organized with proper navigational tools like an index or table of contents, search box, or sidebar with subject headings? Is there enough depth of coverage to be useful?

    Objectivity— Good informational sources are written with a neutral point of view and without bias. Professional journalists strive for neutrality and objectivity in their reporting. You should beware of
    articles that are written with provocative or sensational language that appeal to your emotions. If you use a source that advocates a particular cause, be aware that you aren’t getting the whole picture, and that you need to explore other viewpoints as well.

    Organization— How is the source organized? Well-designed and thoughtful sources provide navigational aids, such as a table of contents, a subject guide or an index. It should be readily apparent if the source is arranged chronologically, alphabetically, hierarchically or some other system to help the reader manage the content. A search tool is often provided for web sources.

    Purpose/Audience— Be aware of the purpose of the information you are using. Maybe it was intended to sell a product, or to persuade you to join a cause, rather than inform a research paper. Think about these purposes as you locate sources:

    Business/Marketing—The purpose of these sources is to sell or promote a product. They are a commercial enterprise that relies on advertising or sales revenues to stay in business. Their audience is consumers.
    Advocacy—The purpose of these sources is to promote a cause or influence public opinion. They are often non-profit organizations who rely on donations or membership fees to operate. They often represent political, religious, or social causes. Their audience is voters or activists.
    Personal websites, social networks or blogs—There is so much user-generated, unprofessional information available whose authors have any number of agendas. Their purposes may be valid, but they may not be fair-minded or objective. Or they may be just ranting, or providing a forum for discussion. Think carefully before using information from these kinds of sources, and definitely seek verification using other sources first.
    News—The purpose of news sources is to provide the most current, up-to the-minute information on local, national or world events. News sources provide primary source material because news reporters go to the scene of the event and provide a first-hand account. Professional journalists strive for neutrality and objectivity and who often specialize in their fields of reporting. News audiences are general citizens.
    Informational— The purpose is to report research findings, publish data, or present factual information. Often they are published by educational institutions, professional organizations or government agencies. Their intended audience is researchers, scholars, students, or citizens who need or want information.


    Step 1: Determine intention or purpose of the source’s creator.
    Five categories of purpose of web sites and print media that may be reliable for research
    1. Business/Marketing (selling or advertising a product)
    - Sponsored by a commercial enterprise
    - Selling or promoting products
    - Advertisements
    - Web address (URL) ends in .com
    Examples: Amazon, Zappos

    2. News (reporting current events, latest updates)
    - Primary purpose is to provide extremely current information  updated daily, hourly
    - Rely on advertising $
    - Usually .com
    - May provide primary source
    Examples: CNN, NYTimes, BBC

    3. Advocacy (Promoting a cause, influencing public opinion, selling an idea)
    - Purpose is to persuade and/or influence public opinion—the author has an agenda
    - Selling ideas rather than products
    - Frequently .org
    - Often sponsored by political, religious, social welfare groups
    - Often rely on member support
    - “Donate” or “Join” link
    - Language is not neutral but can be provocative, sensational, making generalizations
    Examples: PETA, ACLU, Greenpeace

    4. Blogs, personal web sites or social network pages (sharing opinions, providing a forum for discussion)
    - Wikis or Personal web pages
    - Sponsored by individuals who may or may not be affiliated with a larger institution or organization
    - May be .edu or .net or .org
    - Purpose—to provide forum, share opinion, share resources
    - May be integrated into other larger website
    Examples: The Daily Beast

    5. Informational/Scholarly (presenting factual information, research findings, direction or instruction)
    - Sponsored by professional organizations, educational institutions or government agencies—no ads
    - Provided as a Public Service—no agenda
    - .edu or .gov sites
    - Presents research, reports, directories, presentations, topic overviews etc.
    - Language is neutral
    - Sometimes requires a fee and registration
    Examples: databases, Wikipedia, google maps, FirstGov

    Unreliable types of sources to be aware of:
    Hoax: intention is to deceive, trick the audience using urban legends, misinformation
    Parody: intention is to spoof, poke fun, entertain.

    Step 2: Apply these 5 CRITERIA to judge the quality of the information presented:
    1. Authority/expertise
    - Who is the author? What makes the author an expert? Are credentials given?
    - How can I contact him/her?
    - Is it an individual, a corporate author or a government agency?
    - Is there “About us” link?

    2. Accuracy
    Does the source include:
    - Statistics, Facts, Quotations
    - References and links to experts and outside sources
    - A bibliography for further study
    - Footnotes, endnotes, citations

    3. Currency
    - What is the copyright date?
    - When was it last updated?
    - May be relative to topic
    - Science topics need more up-to-date sources
    - Sources in humanities may be older and still relevant
    - Bibliography entries require date retrieved and date published

    4. Coverage
    - What aspects of the topic are discussed? How much detail is given?
    - How is it organized?
    - Chronologically
    - Alphabetically
    - Chapters with headings
    - Highlighted text
    - Is there a contents page or index?
    - Is it easy to navigate?
    - Is the reading level appropriate

    5. Objectivity/bias
    - Is there an agenda?
    - Is there a clear mission statement?
    - Scholarly sources are peer reviewed to ensure objectivity
    - Is the language provocative, or inflammatory or sensational?
    - Is information presented without emotion or prejudice?
1888 Brett Lane, Saltsburg, PA 15681   |   (877) 547-5448
Established in 1888, The Kiski School is one of the oldest, independent, all-boys, college preparatory boarding schools in Pennsylvania and the United States.  Home to 200 boys, Kiski offers an academically rigorous curriculum that includes Advanced and Honors courses, 12 varsity sports, and a community that allows boys to thrive through project-based learning and self-discovery. Kiski's beautiful, 350-acre campus is located in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania, 30 miles east of Pittsburgh, PA.

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