Cites & Bytes @ Bailey

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Continuing Adventures of ResearchGrrl: Know Your Articles

Now when I say, "know your articles," I don't mean that you need to go back and review your foreign language grammar. I'm referring to articles that you will be able to use as sources for your research paper.

Finding articles is pretty simple so long as you know what you are doing... Though our library's webpage makes it fairly simple to stumble your way through the process if you don't feel so confident in your abilities. (You'll be directed to the database index if you just click on "find articles" under the heading "research" on the library's main page.)

There are a lot of different databases that you could use to find sources, so my advice is to do some looking around. It's possible that you'll find a specialty database that will make your job that much easier. To see what you can use, you may want to use the option of the Discovery Search first- it will look in a variety of databases at once. When searching in the databases there are two very important things to keep in mind.

First, you'll need to pick out topical key words to search. The databases utilize Boolean search techniques, so typing in "the relationship between levels of education and pay scales over the past decade" won't yield the same caliber of results that "education and salaries" would yield. It's a wise idea to start with some broad terms to see how you can narrow your search from there because it is far more challenging to go from specific to general results. If you are having a hard time picking out terms to search, you may just want to try phrasing your topic in different ways.

Finally, scholarly articles are the ones that you will probably want to use as opposed to popular articles. Your professor has probably discussed some ways to tell the difference. For me, the easiest way to tell between a popular and scholarly article is to examine a few key areas. It's a popular article if it comes from a magazine that you can buy at a newsstand, with lots of glossy color pages and advertisements. Otherwise, reading the article should reveal whether or not it's a scholarly article by it's language use, style, etc.

Happy searching! Remember to keep reading the Continuing Adventures of ResearchGrrl!


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