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Research Exercise 1
You have 20 minutes to complete this activity.
Get into groups of about 5 people. Read (or scan, depending on length) the article below that matches your group number. You can read this together or you can take 5 minutes to read alone and come back to your group. You will need to decide how to make this work best for your group.
Choose one a scribe and a spokesperson for your group. Answer the following questions:
- Who is the author? What can you find about their background? (use Google)
- What makes this person an expert on this topic?
- Which journal, magazine, organization, or website published this information?
- What kind of publication is this? (Scholarly, peer reviewed, professional, popular, hobbyist, etc.)
- Look for an about page on their website (or explore the website) and/or use Google to find information about the publication/organization/website. What kind of reputation does it have? Is it known for promoting specific points of view (bias)?
- Can you tell where the information in the article came from? Do they share any information from other sources or does it seem like they are sharing an opinion?
- If they used other sources, do those sources seem worth trusting?
- Based on your answers to these questions, would you use this source in an assignment like the one you have in this class? Why?
- If you would not use this article, could anything from this article still be useful in an argumentative essay?
Be prepared to rejoin the larger group to continue this discussion.
Articles by Group
Research Exercise 3
Use any of the databases below to begin constructing a search related to your topic, research question, or thesis.
Take note of the kinds of content available in the results list(s).
How can you differentiate articles from peer reviewed, trade/professional, and other types of periodicals?
Email yourself a copy of the article that looks the most useful or the most interesting.
Academic OneFile (Gale) This link opens in a new window
Academic OneFile is a starting point for peer-reviewed, full-text articles from the world's leading journals and reference sources. Covering the physical sciences, technology, medicine, social sciences, the arts, theology, literature and other subjects, it contains millions of articles available in full-text. Includes full-text New York Times content from 1995 to present.
Academic Search Premier This link opens in a new window
Full text for more than 4,500 scholarly social sciences, humanities, general science, education and multi-cultural journals. 3,700 are peer-reviewed.
General OneFile (Gale) This link opens in a new window
General OneFile is a periodical resource with over 6500 full text titles, many dating back as far as 1980. It contains popular, business and professional journals, NPR audio files complete with transcripts, and Fodor's travel guides.
JSTOR This link opens in a new window
Full text of over 1000 scholarly journals in the arts and sciences, from their earliest issues up to 3-5 years ago. Does not include current issues of the journals. Video tutorials are available.
Opposing Viewpoints (Gale In Context) This link opens in a new window
A one-stop source for information on current social issues. Includes viewpoint articles on both sides of an issue, topic overviews, statistics, primary documents, links to websites, and full text magazine and newspaper articles. View the Opposing Viewpoints handout [pdf]
ScienceDirect This link opens in a new window
Full text for more than 1,000 peer-reviewed life sciences, Health Science, physical sciences, and engineering journals with citation information for thousands more. Look for the "Full-text available" indicators to view articles online. View the Science Direct handout
Research Exercise 4
Now that you've begun constructing your search strategies for scholarly and peer reviewed materials, you may discover there are gaps in the information you've been collecting. There may also be gaps in your understanding or background knowledge.
Use a source of your choosing to locate additional background information related to your topic or thesis. You might include some background research tools listed below, any of the tools listed for finding statistics and websites, or another search tool of your choosing.
Credo Reference This link opens in a new window
Provides online versions of 500 published reference works, including general and specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias. Try the Concept Map to search for terms and topics that are interconnected and displayed in a visual form.
Encyclopedias for Background Research This link opens in a new window
A selection of online encyclopedias that provides general overviews of topics across many subjects. Start here to get working definitions of key concepts and a big picture view of your topic.
Gale Ebooks (formerly GVRL) This link opens in a new window
Gale eBooks has over 200 encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. Look here for biology, chemistry, nursing and medicine, sociology, history, education, law, and more.
US Major Dailies This link opens in a new window
Full text newspapers from five U.S. national and regional newspapers: New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune
Research Exercise 5
Through the end of class: Using the library website's list of Articles & databases, begin to choose databases to search for information related to your inquiry.
- Which databases did you use? Why did you choose these databases?
- Did you use the same search terms you brainstormed in question 1?
- Did you have to try new words for your search to have useful results?
- Continue to email yourself copies of articles and citations.