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LIBS 302 Intro to Liberal Studies

This guide will help you define your research topic and identify resources

Find Articles

For scholarly and peer-reviewed articles, use the resources linked below.

Reading and Using Research Articles

Your background reading should have given you a solid foundation regarding your topic. Now it's time to find out what kind of research has been done regarding your specific question. 

Research articles are more specific than books and encyclopedias. They are written by scholars and experts in the field, are evaluated by other experts, and are published in scientific and research journals dedicated to specific disciplines and research areas. They are different from articles in popular media because they relate the details and conclusions that a researcher arrived at through their own research process. 

Identifying keywords

Before you begin searching for scholarly articles, you need to identify some keywords to use for your search. Searching scholarly databases requires tenacity and a willingness to try multiple tactics to find what you're looking for. 

Begin by looking at your research question and pull out the key terms in the question. For example, if my question is: 

Is the rhetoric of climate change denial similar to the rhetoric of evolution denial?

I would identify the following key words and phrases: 

  • rhetoric
  • "climate change denial" 
  • "evolution denial"

My next step is to brainstorm some synonyms and other phrases that are related to these terms. 

Rhetoric

  • Language
  • Discourse
  • Communication
  • Terminology
  • Vocabulary
  • Press coverage

"Climate change"

  • "Climatic change"
  • "Global warming"
  • "Environmental change"

Evolution

  • "Intelligent design"

Denial

  • Rejection
  • Rebuttal
  • Disavowal
  • Nonacceptance
  • Refute OR refutation

Scholarly or Popular?

What are the differences between academic and popular publications? 

Academic

Popular

Trade

Authors: experts or noted professionals. Check author’s background or qualifications. Authors are most often clearly affiliated with an academic or research institution and an address is provided for readers to contact the author at his or her institution or academic department. Authors:  journalists, students, or anonymous. Credentials often not supplied. Authors: people in the industry  and professional writers
Audience: articles targeted to experts or specialists. Audience: general interest Audience: people in a particular industry 
Bibliography: a list of references is included at the end of each article Bibliography: articles rarely include references Bibliography:articles rarely include references
Content: more specialized, research based - often communicate research findings in a given field. Content: often report opinion in a story format; focus on current events & topics of general interest, and include a variety of advertisements for consumer products. Content: may reflect the industry's point of view, particularly on regulatory and legislative issues; often published by trade associations or by for-profit corporations
Format/Structure: articles usually more structured, may include: abstract, literature review, methodology, results, conclusion. Format/Structure: articles do not necessarily follow a specific format or structure Format/Structure: articles do not necessarily follow a specific format or structure
Language: higher level language, focused, serious tone, words used are specific to a discipline, written by experts Language: broad and simple language, written to be understood by almost anyone.  Language: broad and simple language, written to be understood by almost anyone. May include jargon specific to the industry.
Length: longer articles, providing in-depth analysis of topics Length: shorter articles, providing broader overviews of topics Length: shorter articles
Peer Review Policy: articles are reviewed for detailed factual & research accuracy before publication by peer or experts in the field. Editorial board is composed of scholars in the field. Peer Review Policy: editor or editorial board are members of the magazine's or newspaper's staff. Peer Review Policy: editor or editorial board are members of the magazine's staff.
Special Features: illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs Special Features: illustrations with glossy or colour photographs, usually for advertising purposes Special Features: illustrations with glossy or colour photographs, usually for advertising purposes

from: http://www.library.auckland.ac.nz/subject-guides/bus/topicguides/academic_popularjnls.htm