HIS216 Colonial Latin America & the Caribbean, 1500-1825 (2013)
Instructors: Assoc. Prof. Mark Jackson, Reference & Information Literacy Librarian
My professors want me to find "scholarly" articles in "peer-reviewed" publications? What do they mean?
When your professor requires "scholarly" sources, what does he or she mean? Usually, a scholar is a person with advanced degree credentials (often a PhD), is often affiliated with an institution of higher learning (college or university), researches a similar topic for most of his or her professional life (for example, a study of ancient Egypt, early childhood education, the American Civil War, etc.), and who has had articles published in journals or chapters in books. Often, a scholar will have authored a number of monographs (a work of writing upon a single subject, usually by a single author).
GOOGLE SCHOLAR [http://scholar.google.com/]
Provides a search of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources, including theses, books, abstracts and articles. It is a fabulous starting point for the first stage of your research.
For our test search of Google Scholar, I have chosen the topic of the Maroons of Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Using Google Scholar, I searched for Maroons Jamaica -- This is the result of the search. Note that many of the results are not "full text." If the article is full text, there will be a link to the right of the search results indicating HTML or PDF access. Click the link. This is an example of using a PDF for access.
Google Books also gives you limited access to books. However, many books that are out of copyright have been digitized and this often allows access to the full text primary sources. This is an example.
The Deep Web (also called Deepnet, the invisible Web, dark Web or the hidden Web) refers to World Wide Web content that is not part of the Surface Web, which is indexed by standard search engines. To learn more about the Deep Web, refer to this page developed by the University of California (Berkeley). [http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/InvisibleWeb.html]
You can often find this "hidden" information by adding the word "database" with your other search terms. A database search generates a "dynamic" result, as opposed to a static web page. This is an example.
Why use databases? Isn't everything on Google?
Databases provide authoritative, research articles that are usually NOT available on the Web. These articles are from journals. A journal is a type of periodical that contains scholarly articles written by specialists aimed at other specialists in a particular field. An article in a scholarly journal is usually documented with footnotes and/or a bibliography. For the most part, scholarly journals are published monthly or quarterly and contain little advertising or few, if any, color illustrations. Also referred to as "Peer Reviewed" or "Refereed," a scholarly journal features articles that usually contain original research (qualitative or quantitative) and have been reviewed and selected by other scholars in order to be published.
Books are only one part of your research project. Often you will need to find a scholarly article, an article written by a scholar or professional addressing a specific topic, usually written for other scholars (or potential scholars) or professionals. Because of economic and copyright considerations you will usually NOT find these types of articles on the Web. You will need to use a database to find the article. Journals contain research articles or literary criticism that is usually more up-to-date than books.
Bloomfield College Library Databases [http://ezproxy.bloomfield.edu/public/databases.htm] - Three suggested databases for your research: Academic Search Premier - ProQuest - JSTOR - One suggested way to begin is by using a subject search.
Yeah but, isn't everything on the Web? No, it is not. A lot has been digitized but it represents only a small fraction of text and images produced over the centuries. It costs resources of time and money to go back and digitize historical documents such as minutes of meetings, letters, etc. If your intention is to become a historian, you need to hit the archives! This is an example of information not available on the Internet.
How can I evaluate what I find?
Finally, we find a tremendous amount of information on the Web. Unfortunately, much of it is not suitable for academic writing. Whatever our uses for the information we are trying to find (health issues, buying a car, a new car safety seat for our children, or information about education) we need to EVALUATE what we find. Opinionated, ill-informed, outdated, and erroneous and incorrect information may not only get us a lower grade on a paper, it may be injurious to our health!
The Library of Cornell University has developed a short and concise guide to evaluating Web pages, Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages [http://www.library.cornell.edu/olinuris/ref/research/webcrit.html]. This guide will help you to evaluate whether or not to use information, either for academic purposes or personal life decisions.