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* Anthropology

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Is My Source Scholarly?

Source Level

Here are a few criteria for determining if your source is scholarly:
Author(s) credentials - are they experts working or teaching in this field of study?
Length - is it a few brief paragraphs or a longer, more substantive article?
Language - is it written for other scholars in the field?  Do they used specialized or technical language specific to this field of study?     
References - is the author(s) citing other scholars in this field of study? Do they have a robust reference list?
Journal or Book Type - If it's a journal article, what kind of journal is the article is published in?  Is it a scholarly journal, or even peer reviewed?  If it’s a book, is it published by a university press or other well-respected commercial publisher known for publishing scholarly works?

Is my source written by an anthropologist?

Author - does the author(s) have anthropology credentials? Sometimes the article will provided an author bio at the beginning or in the footnotes of an article.  If not, google the author(s). Research has become more interdisciplinary in nature and it's common to see an anthropologist team up to do research with a researcher from another discipline and even publish their research in non-anthropology journals.

Language - does the author(s) use anthropological terms and theories (specialized language like "cultural relativism" or ethnocentrism) and anthropological methodology (like ethnography, participant observation, or fieldwork)?

Perspective - does the author(s) have an anthropological perspective, often this means having a holistic view of the subject matter and considering the culture of the group crucial to their study.

Notable journals in the field of anthropology include:
American Anthropologist
Annual Review of Anthropology
Anthropological Quarterly
Anthropology News
Cultural Anthropology
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI)
Journal of Material Culture

Reading strategies for vetting sources for close reading

Annotated Bibliographies

Annotated bibliographies differ from abstracts or summaries of articles. Annotated bibliographies are a list of sources (journal or news articles, books, websites, datasets, etc.) on a particular topic. The list is usually in alphabetical order by author and employs a single citation style. The propose of an annotated bibliography is:

  • To prove you have done some valid research to back up your argument and claims
  • To explain the content of your sources, assess their usefulness, and share this information with others who may be less familiar with them

Some questions to help with your analysis of a source might include:

  • What’s the main point or thesis of this source?
  • Does the author seem to have particular biases or are they trying to reach a particular audience?
  • How does this source relate to your own research and ideas?
  • How does this source relate to other sources you have read? Do they have aspects of the same argument or opposing views?

Here are a few links to help you better understand and construct an annotated bibliography.

Graphic Organizers to help you build an annotated bibliography:

Anatomy of a Literature Review Article

Image Source: Pixabay

Anatomy of an Empirical Research Article

Image Source: Pixabay

Recognizing Ethnographic Research Exercise

Directions: Skim through the following articles and determine if they are an ethnography. Be prepared to justify your decision. Base your decision using the following criteria:

  • Written by a trained researcher who gathered their data through participant observation, interviews, or focus groups.
  • Published in a scholarly journal or by a scholarly press.
  • Uses information about the culture to explain the phenomena observed in a structured, narrative way.
  • Tells of events lived by actual individuals.
  • Has a time period and location.

Primary, secondary & tertiary Sources - what's the difference?

These are items or original works that are a firsthand record of a topic. 
Ethnography/Ethnographic Data: Ethnographies, surveys, observational data, interviews, data sets, documentation of lab research,
First-hand accounts/depictions of events: News (printed, radio, TV, online), photographs, blogs, social media sites, diaries, letters, manuscripts, business records, videos, polls, census data, speeches, autobiographies
Policy: Education, Political Science, or Public including government publications, laws, court cases, speeches, test results, interviews, polls, surveys
Fine Arts/Artifacts: Original art work, photographs, recordings of performances and music, scripts (film, theatre, television), music scores interviews, memoirs, diaries, letters, autobiographies
Language and Literature: Novels (fiction), plays, short stories poems, autobiographies
Psychology, Sociology, Economics: Articles describing research results of experiments, ethnographies, interviews, surveys, data sets (sometimes called empirical or primary research).

Texts that offer analysis, interpretation or a restatement of primary sources and are considered to be persuasive; this includes journal articles that comment on or analyse research, literature reviews, textbooks, books that interpret or analyse, political commentary, biographies, dissertations, newspaper editorial/opinion pieces, criticism or interpretations of literature, art works or music.

Sources that compile information from secondary and primary sources to provide a broad overview of the representation of a topic or related topics; such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, handbooks, indexes and manuals.