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Once you understand what the assignment is, make a list of keywords prior to searching the databases. This can be in the form of a list or concept map. Think of all the different ways you can say the same thing. Once you have a list started, begin your research. As you sort through your results, examine the "subjects" assigned to the articles to find more search terms that may be useful to you.
Academic / Scholarly / Peer Reviewed
The terms Academic, Scholarly or Peer Reviewed are frequently used interchangably. In nearly all cases they mean the same thing. They are used to indicated a scholarly (adheres to a common 4-6 part format to report research findings) article that has been peer reviewed (by others with knowledge of research in the field) that appears in an academic or research publication (few or no advertisements).
Characteristics of a Scholarly Resource:
- Peer Reviewed (ususally blind review)
Peer review means a group of experts in the field review the article that an author has submitted to a scholarly journal for publication BEFORE it is actually published. These are typically peers of the submitting author (thus "peer reviewed") working in the same field. There are typically 2-4 reviewers who will make suggestions to improve the article, identify particular strong or weak points in the sections of the article, and generally provide feedback to the author (through the journal editor, thus "blind peer reviewed") about the value of the findings and if the article should be accepted for publication.
- Writing can be complex and difficult for readers without knowledge of the field.
Making sense of research findings in a particular field requires some knowledge of that field. Articles published to share research findings really are intended for an academic or research audience where knowledge of the field at a certain level is assumed. The narrorwer the intended reading audience, the more knowledge the reader is assumed to have.
- The article follows a typical formula.
- In-text citations or footnotes or endnotes are frequently utilized.
Depending on the field, some scholarly publications will use "in line" citations (Author Name, Year), some will use an elevated citation number that references a citation or note that appears at the bottom of the page called a footnote (at the "foot" or bottom of the page), while others will use an elevated citation number to an article or note that appears at the end of the article itself called an endnote.
- Reference list typically appears at the end of the article (or book).
Not only is there a reference list / bibliography, but that list will be formatted in a particular style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) that is common to a particular field of research.
- The publication in which the article appears has no (or very little) advertising.
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