The research process is part of the composition process. Don't be afraid to let your personal taste and inclinations guide the direction of your research. It's also important, however, to Critically Analyze Information Sources (Cornell).
- What kinds of sources do you need? If you need scholarly articles, search article databases on the library website. If you need movie times, search Google!
- Slow down.
- Is there an advanced search page?
- Can you limit to peer-reviewed articles?
- Can you limit by the year published?
- Can you use any subject terms to get more relevant results?
- Iterative searching
- Learn from the search results
- Too many results? Too few?
- Look at citations from good sources
What is Peer Review?
Your instructor may want you to use "peer reviewed" articles as sources for your paper. Or you may be asked to find "academic," "scholarly," or "refereed" articles. What do these terms mean?
Let's start with the terms academic and scholarly, which are synonyms. An academic or scholarly journal is one intended for a specialized or expert audience. Journals like this exist in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Examples include Nature, Journal of Sociology, and Journal of American Studies. Scholarly/academic journals exist to help scholars communicate their latest research and ideas to each other; they are written "by experts for experts."
Most scholarly/academic journals are peer reviewed; another synonym for peer reviewed is refereed. Before an article is published in a peer-reviewed journal, it's evaluated for quality and significance by several specialists in the same field, who are "peers" of the author. The article may go through several revisions before it finally reaches publication.
Magazines like Time or Scientific American, newspapers, (most) books, government documents, and websites are not peer-reviewed, though they may be thoroughly edited and fact-checked. Articles in scholarly journals (in printed format or online) usually ARE peer-reviewed.
How can you tell if an article is both scholarly and peer-reviewed?Read more
Library Workshop: Research 101
Unsure how to start a paper or research project? Think maybe you could stand to brush up on search strategies?
If this sounds familiar, Library Workshop: Research 101 has you covered. This interactive tutorial explores six stages of the research process. You can view it from start to finish, or focus on specific sections as needed:
Starting strategies, from choosing a topic to finding the right keywords.
What is This? Reading Citations...
Finding a citation in a bibliography (online or in print) is a great way to find more resources on your topic.
However, you have to be able to read the citation in order to find the item in the UCB Library.
The most common citations are for books, articles, and book chapters. Can you tell which citation below is for a book? For a chapter? For an article?
- Orbe, Mark P. "Representations of Race in Reality TV: Watch and Discuss." Critical Studies in Media Communication 25.4 (2008): 345-352.
- Winters, Loretta I., and Herman L. DeBose. New Faces in a Changing America: Multiracial Identity in the 21st Century. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Inc., 2003.
- Fine, Michelle, and Adrienne Asch. “Disability Beyond Stigma: Social Interaction, Discrimination, and Activism.” The Culture and Psychology reader. Eds. Goldberger, Nancy Rule; Veroff, Jody Bennet New York: New York University Press. 1995. 536-558