WR 122 - Hills: Finding articles
Most academic research includes extensive use of published articles. These might include articles from general interest magazines, newspapers, or specialized academic/peer-reviewed journals. You can find these kinds of sources using Google but it is very inefficient because they will be mixed in with all the rest of the stuff (good and bad) that Google will serve up. It is also the case that the better and more serious the source, the more likely it will be available only to subscribers. This means your Googling will bring you up against a paywall. Instead of Google for these kinds of sources, try a library database!
For Reliable (but not peer-reviewed) sources: Under Source Types check the "Magazines" "News" and "Trade Publications" boxes. Your results will be from reliable publications, and will be more understandable than many scholarly articles.
For Scholarly (aka "Peer Reviewed) sources: Check only the "Academic Journals" box. (If you have done the reliable first, be sure to uncheck Magazines, News and Trade Publications.)
The library also subscribes to a lot of very targeted databases. If you're exploring a topic related to a particular discipline (for example, the environment, women's/gender issues, business, health), remember that we might have a database related to that broad topic. Some examples include:
All of the library databases can be accessed using the "Articles and Databases" link on the library homepage. These are available from off-campus with your MyPCC login information.
What makes a source good?
There is no magic, easy answer to this question! There isn't a rule we can use to say "if this is true, the source will be good". Instead we want to think about the questions we should be asking ourselves when deciding whether to use a source like:
- Is this source relevant to my topic or is it just that my keywords happened to show up in it?
- Is this information current?
- Who wrote it? What are their qualifications? Can I confirm their credentials somehow?
- Is it published? By whom? How much scrutiny was this subjected to before it was published?
- What is the reputation of the publication?
- Who funded this information and why?
- Are the sources that the author used to make their argument included/cited? If not, does the author tell you where they got the information clearly enough that you could track it down?
- What is the bias or perspective of the author? Which points of view are they representing? Which points of view are they leaving out?
Remember, the sources we choose to cite form the basis of our own credibility. If we cite junk, our reader is justified in thinking our argument is junk.