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?
Brainstorming - step by step
Write what you know - what you’re curious about - don’t edit yourself! Terms that you know, researchers? Any more specific areas you might focus on -
Pre-research: Where do you get ideas for the right kind of terms? Wikipedia, google, news, friends? Take a few minutes to look around. If you like google, fine - just remember, we’re just getting the landscape. Try to think of some source that you have some trust in with respect to your topic.
First pass at narrowing your topic
Who - can you narrow the group?
Where - can you narrow the place?
When - can you narrow the time frame?
How - can you limit to a particular methodology/effect?
(If your research question/topic is super-specific - you can use these to broaden it a little, too.)
Using Articles and Books as brainstorming tool.
www.library.rochester.edu (first tab: Articles & Books)
What we’re not doing quite yet: looking for 10 pdfs to download and read. (We’ll get there, I promise)
We’re going to start by seeing what’s happening in the field *right now* - we’ll put some search terms in, and then use the filters:
Publication date (try “Last 12 months”)
Use the “Preview” link to read the abstract, subject headings, etc.
Not finding what you want? Try changing the search terms - you might be discovering new terms as you look.
Finding a few “starter” articles
Your research question should be getting a little more focused now. Find one or two articles that look promising. Open them up, and we’ll take a moment to think about how these might help us find more relevant research.
Author, journal, keywords
Lit review, introduction, background
Conclusion: areas for future research
Works Cited/ Bibliography/References
Is there one article cited that you like that’s more than 2 years old? Let’s see if anyone else has cited that article: scholar.google.com
Now, you have a few articles, and you might find you need to go through parts of this again as your ideas change and develop. Have a strategy and remember that I’m here to help with that!
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License by Eileen Daly-Boas, University of Rochester.