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INT 101 Morrison

last modified Nov 14, 2016 03:36 PM

This guide will assist you with your research assignments. Any questions that you have about doing library research can be directed to , the librarian for this class. Or you can ask a librarian.

Finding Sources

Remember that you may want to use Zotero to keep track of, organize, and cite your sources. A basic guide on how to use this tool is available, or you can ask Amy Gratz for assistance.

On Any Topic:

  • Discovery - an EBSCO service allowing you to search multiple databases and the library catalog simultaneously. Use this for any of the research domains, and to find books.
  • Research Library (ProQuest) — Provides access to sources from any research domain, and includes sources that you will NOT find in Discovery.
  • Web of Science (Web of Knowledge/Thomson Reuters) — Provides detailed citations and abstracts for the top scholarly periodicals in the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities. Click on "More Settings" to limit your search by domain.

On The Natural Sciences:

  • ScienceDirect (Elsevier) — provides access to articles published by Elsevier's journals, one of the top publishers in the world.

On The Social Sciences:

  • Social Science (ProQuest) — Covers many topics including addiction studies, urban studies, family studies, and international relations.

On The Humanities:

  • Arts & Humanities (ProQuest) — Includes hundreds of titles covering Art, Architecture, Design, History, Philosophy, Music, Literature, Theatre and Cultural Studies.

On Art:

  • International Bibliography of Theater & Dance with Full Text (EBSCO) — Articles, essays and book chapters mined from internationally selected publications in drama, dance, media, mime, mixed entertainment, storytelling, music-drama, and puppetry. International Bibliography of Theater & Dance with Full Text includes nearly 100 journal titles and over 120 full-text books not included in Academic Search Complete.
  • ARTstor Digital Library — This resource provides over 1.5 million digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences with an accessible suite of software tools for teaching and research. Please reference the Terms and Conditions for information on how to responsibly use the images in this collection.

IN ADDITION, you may want to check out the other subject guides and look for more specific databases, depending on your topic - we have over 200 databases, including specialized resources for areas like education, psychology, history, and more.

Search Strategies

Boolean Operators: AND, OR, NOT

Use Boolean Operators to combine your keywords into a more effective search, as indicated below. It is important to remember to put these operators in all caps, so the database knows that it is a command.

AND searches for multiple words and requires that all the words appear. This narrows your list of results. OR searches for multiple words, and requires only one of the words appear. This broadens your list of results.  NOT blocks certain words from your search. This narrows your list of results.

Phrase Searching

When you're looking for a specific phrase or set of words, it is extremely helpful to put those words in quotation marks. This tells the database that you only want results where those words appear exactly as typed, in that order. This narrows your list of results.

Nested Searches

Nested searching is a strategy where you group similar search terms together into a more complex search. This builds on the strategies above, and is essentially letting you conduct multiple searches at the same time.

Nested Seach

Pearl Growing/Data Mining

Once you have found a useful article, use the sources cited by the author to locate additional potential sources. If you need help deciphering citations or locating sources, please contact me or another librarian for assistance. You can also use Google Scholar to work your way forwards - look up your article there, and look for a "cited by" link. You may also see a "cited by" or a references link in Discovery.

Source Types

Popular or Mass Media sources: Publications intended for the general public; the main purpose is usually entertainment. Whether or not they should be used depends on the research topic.

Scholarly Sources: This term includes a variety of source types, but the most important for this assignment are these:

  • Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles (aka scholarly articles, referred articles, or academic articles): Publications intended for researchers; the main purpose is usually informative. These publications are written by scholars and reviewed by other experts in the field prior to publication. Most scholarly articles are research articles (presenting original research), but some fields also publish review articles (summarizing the research done on a specific topic). These are the most commonly used source type in academic research.
  • Scholarly Books: books which are written by one or more scholars, and usually published by a university or college press. These are easier to read than peer-reviewed articles, but are also highly reputable and regularly used by academics.

Reasons to use Peer-Reviewed Articles:
  • They are generally the most highly valued source of information in academic circles
  • They are written and reviewed by experts in the field
  • The information they contain critically examines some aspect of the world, and is often narrowly-focused

Reasons to use Scholarly Books:

  • They are easier to understand, because they are written for a broader audience than an article
  • They are written by experts in the field
  • The information they contain is more broadly-focused and often provides an overview of a topic or multiple scholarly perspectives

Reading Scholarly Research Articles: Since you are not experts in the field, this can be tricky. While you should certainly read the whole thing at least once, I recommend reading the article out of order:

  1. Read the abstract and introduction
  2. Look for section headers such as "results" "discussion" or "conclusion" - read these sections thoroughly
  3. Read through the rest of the article, including any tables or charts
  4. Read the introduction and conclusion again
Be sure to look up terms you don't know!
Evaluating Sources

Regardless of the type of source you have, there are several criteria for deciding whether or not to use it in your paper. Start with the C.R.A.P. test to do a basic evaluation:Image "OverThink" by Lori Semprevio, 2010. https://flic.kr/p/8vrXjd

Currency: is the information recent enough for your topic? 

Relevancy: does the information relate to your topic, either directly or indirectly?

Authority: who wrote the information, and are they an authoritative source?

Purpose: what was the intent of the author when writing this information?

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. 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? 

Image "OverThink" by Lori Semprevio, 2010. Used under the CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license

Amy Gratz

Amy Gratz
Assistant Professor
Research Services Librarian

B.A. Gustavus Adolphus College 2006; M.S.L.I.S Syracuse University 2008

Phone: 478-301-5334
E-mail: gratz_ae@mercer.edu

 
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