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Using Sources: Evaluating and Citing Sources: Scholarly Articles

This guide shows students what to do now that they have found information. The main purposes of this guide is to explain how to determine if an item meets their needs and how to incorporate the information into their assignment.

Definition of scholarly

How do I understand and use scholarly articles?

  • read the abstract first and make sure the keywords and ideas relate to your paper topic
  • look up information (visit their websites) about the authors in order to learn more about their point of view and research
  • read the articles they deem as important in their article (see THEIR bibliographies)
  • paraphrase relevant information from their article and DO NOT quote it; putting it in your own words makes you think about what they are studying

Determining if it is scholarly

If the answer is "yes" to most of the following questions, then you have found a scholarly article

  • Read the title of the journal--does the title contain a discipline area or a very specialized subject area? (ex. The Journal of Education or The Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare)
  • Does the title of the journal contain any of these words: Journal, Research, Review, or Studies? (ex. The American Poetry Review)

  • Does the article have a detailed title? (ex. "Method of evaluating thermal diffusitity")

  • Is the article title lengthy? (ex."No revolution in North Korea: The political economy of revolution revisited")

  • Next to the author's name, do you see a list of degrees, titles, or names of institutions colleges or universities? (ex. "Liz Grauerholz, Ph.D, Department of Sociology, University of Central Florida")

  • Does an abstract appear before the first sentence of the article? (ex. An abstract is a brief summary of the article which includes the purpose of the research)
  • Is the periodical published or sponsored by a scholarly society or organization? (ex. American Psychological Association or the University of North Carolina)

 

Let's say that you are still not sure if an article is scholarly. This can happen when you found an article online. In addition to the previous criteria, ask the following. If the answer is "yes," then you have found a scholarly article.

  •  Does the author assume the reader understands specialized vocabulary or already knows about the subject?

  • Do you see a list of references or notes either as footnotes or a bibliography?

  • If it is about a study, does the article contain  tables and charts?

  • Does the article report on the results of research or experiments?

  • Does the article include a review of the literature, a section towards the beginning of the article about what other experts found or think?

There are times when an article may have the look or sound of a scholarly article, but isn't one. If the answer is "yes" to most of the following questions, then it is NOT a scholarly journal.

  • Does the article list no author?
  • Is the bibiliography short or not included?
  • Do you notice several ads on the pages with the article?
  • Is the vocabulary easy to understand
  • Does the content seem vague or lack details, other than one or two significant facts?

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Quoting in your paper

Use quotations sparingly. They should be so powerful and unique that paraphrasing would be an injustice to its significance. Therefore, ask yourself:
 

1. Will it fit into your argument? Does it fit into the paragraph?

  • If so, then using the quote is justified.

     

2.Is it merely descriptive–that is, would it be better to just paraphrase what the writer is saying, rather than directly quoting?

  • If that is the case, consider paraphrasing the author instead.

Don’t just plop in a quote! There are three parts to using a quote in your writing:
 

1. Introduce the quote and use a style guide to cite it correctly (page number, date)

  • give information about the author or study (“According to a recent study”)

  • use a transition word or phrase (“Therefore, the researchers concluded”

.

2. Following the quote, explain why the information in this quote is important

  • the author is in opposition to other research or ideas

  • the author expands upon other research or ideas

     

3. State the implications of the quotation for your own argument.

  • there are flaws with the author’s research or ideas

  • there are merits to the author’s research or ideas
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The CRAAP Test can help you determine if a source is scholarly

If an article is scholarly, then it meets the following criteria:

Currency: the timeliness of the information

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

Authority: the source of the information

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content

Purpose: the reason the information exists

Currency: the timeliness of the information

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

  •      examples: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (U.S. government),
                   .org (nonprofit organization), or .net (network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content, and

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact? opinion? propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Try your new knowledge by taking this short quiz!  Pretend your research question is "What are the social benefits and liabilities for reducing welfare program funding in Texas?"

Which database collection would be more likely to point you to articles relevant to your topic?
Sociological Abstracts: 3 votes (100%)
Biological Abstracts: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 3
Which source would likely be more authoritative on your topic?
a peer-reviewed article published in Federal Programs & Review: 3 votes (100%)
an article published in Time Magazine: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 3
Which source is more likely to be accurate?
employment statistics from a newsletter published by a grassroots organization opposed to welfare programs: 0 votes (0%)
statistics published on The Dept of Health and Human Services web site: 3 votes (100%)
Total Votes: 3

Which database collection would be more likely to point you to articles relevant to your topic? Sociological Abstracts

  • Sociological Abstracts indexes journals that focus on social consequences of human behavior, which is more relevant to your topic.Biological Abstracts indexes journals in the life sciences, which would not likely cover social aspects of your topic.

Which source would likely be more authoritative on your topic? Peer-Reviewed Journal

  • An article in a Peer-Reviewed Journal is more likely to have been written by an expert and will have been evaluated by other experts before it is published. Writers for Time Magazine are not likely to have expertise in social issues surrounding welfare programs.

Which source is more likely to be accurate? U.S. government

  • The U.S. government is considered a reliable source for statistics. You can identify a government web site by the ".gov" at the end of the URL. A grass roots organization opposed to welfare programs may use legitimate statistics but exclude those that don't support a specific agenda.

 

question and answer explanation courtesy of Notre Dame Library

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Poll for Scholarly Articles

I found this page helpful
Strongly Agree: 0 votes (0%)
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Somewhat agree: 0 votes (0%)
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Total Votes: 0