Research Help

Research Help Tutorial:
What are Scholarly Resources?

Text Version

Determining the quality, reliability, credibility and relevance of information for research assignments
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Scholarly and Research Journals
(Includes images of journal covers)
Sample Titles:
American Historical Review, Journal of Educational Research, Plasma Physics, Social Psychology Quarterly
Authors:
Researchers, professors, scholars
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Usage:

  1. Original research 
  2. In-depth analysis 
  3. Academic-level book reviews
  4. Refereed or peer-reviewed

Language:

  1. Academic language
  2. Can be technical

Sources:

  1. Footnotes
  2. Bibliographies
  3. Extensive documentation

Publisher:

  1. Universities
  2. Scholarly presses
  3. Academic/research organizations

Graphics:

  1. Graphs, charts, formulas
  2. No glossy ads

Databases:

  1. Academic Search Premier
  2. Lexis-Nexis
  3. JStor
  4. Art Index
  5. Biological Abstracts
  6. Web of Science
  7. SocIndex

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Professional, Trade and Industry Journals
(Includes images of journal covers)
Sample Titles:
RN, Science Teacher, Restaurants and Institutions, American Libraries
Authors:
Practitioners in the field or journalists with subject expertise
Usage:

  1. Current trends 
  2. News and products in a field 
  3. Company-organizational-biographical information
  4. Statistics, forecasts, employment information

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Language:

  1. Written for practitioners
  2. Can use jargon

Sources:

  1. Occasional brief bibliographies

Publisher:

  1. Commercial publishers
  2. Professional and trade associations

Graphics:

  1. Photographs, charts, tables, illustrations
  2. Some glossy ads

Databases:

  1. Academic Search Premier
  2. Business Source Complete
  3. ERIC
  4. SportDiscus

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Commentary and opinion journals
(Includes images of journal covers)
Sample Titles:
Mother Jones, National Review, Atlantic, New Republic
Authors:
Can be professors, journalists, etc.
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Usage:

  1. Commentaries on social and political issues
  2. Some in-depth analysis
  3. Political viewpoints; sometimes acts as the voice of an activist organization;
  4. Speeches and interviews, book reviews

Language:

  1. Written for a general educated audience

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Sources:

  1. Occasional citations, short bibliographies

Publisher:

  1. Commercial publishers or

            non-profit organizations
Graphics:

  1. Some plain, some glossy

Databases:

  1. Academic Search Premier

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Newspapers
(Includes images of newspaper front pages)
Sample Titles:
New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal
Authors:
Journalists
Usage:

  1. Current information
  2. Hard news, local and regional information, classified ads, editorials, speeches, book reviews
  3. Primary source for information on events

Language:

  1. Written for a general educated audience

Sources:

  1. Rarely cite any sources in full

Publisher:

  1. Commercial publishers

Graphics:

  1. Pictures, charts, ads

Databases:

  1. Academic Search Premier
  2. Lexis-Nexis
  3. Newspaper Source

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Popular Magazines
(Includes images of journal covers)
Sample Titles:
Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Reader’s Digest
Authors:
Journalists and freelance writers
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Usage:

  1. Current events, hot topics
  2. Primary source for analysis of popular culture, short articles, interviews
  3. Generally not much depth

Language:

  1. Non-technical language

Sources:

  1. Sources rarely cited

Publisher:

  1. Commercial publishers

Graphics:

  1. Very glossy; full-color ads

Databases:

  1. Academic Search Premier

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When looking at a resource, consider:
Authority – Who wrote it?

  1. Scholarly – The author has scholarly credentials.
  2. Popular – The author’s credentials might not be listed.

Content – What is in it?

  1. Scholarly – Primary research
  2. Popular – General information, opinions

Purpose – Why was this article written?

  1. Scholarly – Information
  2. Popular – Entertainment

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Audience – Who is reading this article?

  1. Scholarly – Other scholars
  2. Popular – General public

Jargon – What language does the author use?

  1. Scholarly – Specialized
  2. Popular – General

Layout – How does the article look?

  1. Scholarly – IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion)
  2. Popular – Informal

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Accountability – How can I trust this article?

  1. Scholarly – Peer Review (edited by other scholars in the same field)
  2. Popular – Edited

Graphics – What else is on the page?

  1. Scholarly – Few ads
  2. Popular – Many ads

Finally, consider the article’s Bias or Point of View.

  1. Is it appropriate for your assignment/research?

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Example: Look at this article
(Includes screenshot of a full-text article from a database, and image from the print version of the magazine.)

  1. Text A is from a full-text database
  2. Text B is from a print journal
  3. The content is the same in both versions (minus the photo).

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(Includes screenshot of a one-page, full-text article from a database, with the citation circled at the top)
Hint: a scholarly article would be more than one page.
When given the choice between HTML and PDF, choose the PDF version, which keeps the graphics of the original print version.
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(Includes image of the same article from the print version of the magazine.)
Note: Graphic is the same size as the article
What do you know about the author?
(arrow pointing to advertisement)
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Compare with another article from the same database:
(Includes screenshot of a different full-text article from a database, with the citation circled at the top, and an arrow pointing to the article’s abstract.)
Note the number of pages.
Scholarly articles (particularly in the sciences and social sciences) will often have an abstract or summary.
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(Includes image of the same article from the print version of the magazine, with a close-up image of the authors’ biographical and contact information.)
In scholarly articles, the author(s)’ academic affiliation is listed.
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What can you tell about the author?
(Includes image of a detective with a magnifying glass.)
Visible credentials:

  1. Scholarly – Will list the author(s) university affiliation, or membership in a professional organization
  2. Popular – the author is an employee of the publication, or a freelance writer

Not in the article? Try Google-ing the author’s name....
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What about web-based resources?
(Includes image of a globe with a USB cable attached.)
How to evaluate a website?

  1. Authority
  2. Content
  3. Purpose
  4. Audience
  5. Jargon
  6. Layout
  7. Accountability
  8. Graphics

Consider the same factors as with print sources.
Ask yourself:
Will this website impress my professor?
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Make the distinction:
Is your online resource:

  1. An electronic representation of a print resource?
    1. A full-text journal article found through a library database
    2. An “e-book”
  2. A website without print equivalent, which may have been created for-profit, by someone without credentials?

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Never pay for access!
(Includes image of the four major credit cards with a red NO circle.)

  1. Library resources are freely available to students and faculty of the University.
  2. A library resource will never ask for a credit card number.
    1. But may ask for authentication from off-campus users.

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Need more help? Ask a Librarian!
(Includes screenshot of the Ask-a-Librarian chat box, found on most pages of the library’s catalog.)

  1. Find us online via instant message

OR

  1. Stop by the 1) Reference Desk in the Information Commons on the 1st floor or 2) the Science Library

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Content Credits
Johnson, Ryan.  “Types of periodicals.” University of Mississippi Libraries.
Owen, Patricia L.  “Yours, mine and ours: moving students through the information literacy ladder.” Presentation at the annual meeting of the American Library Association, 2010.  http://www.infowen.info/headsup2009.ppt


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