GBK 101 Gardner
This guide is designed to help you complete your research assignment in this class. If you need more assistance, please don't hesitate to contact Amy Gratz, the librarian for your class (contact information on right).
A key first step in researching is brainstorming search terms, or keywords. This will help you think of different aspects of your topic and flesh out possible directions to take when researching or writing, and gives you a pool of potential terms to go back to if your first few tries don't yield relevant results. For this assignment, you'll want to start with thinking about your original paper and the comments you received to look for places where you could benefit from having more information. Remember that for this topic, you might want to look for information about rhetoric and/or Homer in general, and not focus solely on rhetoric in Iliad 9. Try some of the following strategies if you're not sure where to start:
- For this assignment, start with your first paper thesis and argument - what were your key ideas?
- Try to imagine what words someone answering your research question might use
- Look up synonyms and related topics or phrases
- Try working with a partner – getting a different perspective is often invaluable
- Identify any common misunderstandings or related topics that you DON’T want in your results
Scholarly and Popular Sources
Most sources of information fall into one of these two categories. Here's how they're different:
"Scholarly" (aka "academic" or "peer-reviewed") periodicals are usually published by an association, institution, or scholarly press. They contain articles written by scholars, professors, and researchers in a particular discipline, and are intended for other scholars and researchers in the field. Articles published in these journals are sent to other experts in the field to be reviewed prior to publication.
“Popular” periodicals are publications that are intended for the general public, and whose main purpose is usually entertainment. Articles in these publications are generally written by paid journalists or columnists, and reviewed by an editor.
- They are generally the most highly valued source of information in academic circles
- They are written by and reviewed by experts in the field
- The information they contain critically examines some aspect of the world
Reasons to use Popular Sources:
- They are easier to understand because they are written for the general public
- They are more likely to contain information on recent events
- They can give you an insight into what type of information is available to the general populace on a subject
In addition to knowing what type of source you have, there are several other criteria for deciding whether or not to use a source in your paper. Start with the C.R.A.P. test to do a basic evaluation:
Currency: is the information recent enough for your topic?
- For this assignment, probably within the last 25-35 years
Relevancy: does the information relate to your topic, either directly or indirectly?
- Directly relevant sources are better, but you may need to use less relevant sources and make the connections to your topic for your reader
Authority: who wrote the information, and are they an authoritative source?
- For this assignment, you want to use works written by scholars who are experts in an appropriate field
Purpose: what was the intent of the author when writing this information?
- Most scholarly sources are informative, but the author may also be trying to persuade you to agree with them. You should also consider whether or not they agree with the majority of scholars on the given topic
Once you have done a general overview of the source, you will need to do a more in-depth evaluation of the source information. At this point, you will need to do a close, critical reading of the source, somewhat similar to what you do with Great Books and annotating your reading. Most importantly, you need to apply your own critical thinking skills: does the author's argument make sense? can you think of any counter-arguments or points they failed to consider? Do they seem to be manipulating the data in any way?
Course Reserves - Three books related to this topic have been put on course reserve to allow equal access. They can be checked out at the circulation desk for 3 hours at a time and used in the building - just mention the course number and title of the book you want to check out: Speech Presentation in Homeric Epic, Homeric Speech and the Origins of Rhetoric, or Epos: Word, Narrative, and the Iliad.
Discovery - an EBSCO service allowing you to search multiple databases and the library catalog simultaneously. This is a great resource for finding information on almost any topic, especially if you're not sure where to start. Search here for books as well as journal articles. Books may well be more useful for this topic than articles, because they will generally be written at a more basic reading level. Remember that you do not need to use or read the entire book.
Databases included in Discovery, but worth searching separately for this assignment:
- JSTOR — Perhaps the best database to use for Great Books research topics, this online archive contains back issues of scholarly journals in many disciplines. JSTOR can be confusing to use - try limiting your Discovery search by database to JSTOR, or come see a librarian if you need help.
- MLA International Bibliography — This database is focused on literary research, and contains information on literature, languages, linguistics, literary theory and criticism, dramatic arts, and folklore. Be aware that many of the sources here are NOT in full text, so you may need to use InterLibrary Loan to retrieve items of interest.
Databases NOT included in Discovery:
- Research Library (ProQuest) — This is a general database that provides access to thousands of scholarly journals and popular magazines from a wide variety of disciplines.
- WorldCat — If you have a hard time finding enough resources in the Mercer Libraries, this database will allow you to request books from libraries around the world. Keep in mind that this will take time, as all items must be mailed to us.
InterLibrary Loan (ILL)
For this assignment, it is highly likely that you will need to request items via ILL. This is a service that allow you to access books and articles that are not available in the Mercer University Libraries. Most databases will provide a link for you to request the item through ILL, but if needed, you can also fill out the form manually here.
Articles will generally arrive within 2 or 3 business days, as an email sent directly to you. Make sure to open the email and download the article immediately.
Books will generally arrive within a week or two, but may take up to 6, depending on how far away the other library is. You will receive an email notification when your item has arrived, and you may pick it up at the circulation desk. BE SURE TO PLACE BOOK REQUESTS EARLY!
MLA Style Guide - created and maintained by the Purdue OWL, this guide covers the basics of citing in MLA style.
Also check your Little Bear Handbook, or you can come and check out the complete style guides at the library's circulation desk.
Ask Jack for more help! Librarians at the Ask Jack desk are happy to help you cite your sources or double-check your work!