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Research Basics Tutorial: College-Level Research

Write about what you discover

Write About What You Discover...

Image: "Talking on a handheld or hands-free phone or to a passenger were all more distracting, with handheld the worst of these. But voice-activated systems to send and receive texts and email were the worst kind of distraction."

Let's say you are trying to argue against hand-held texting while driving. However, in your research you find this summary of research done by University of Utah psychologist David Strayer that found:

So if the safe operation of a car is the core motivation for your argument, you might have to pivot your thesis and research to examine all the aspects of cell phones, hands-free or otherwise, and the extent to which they distract the driver.

Adjust your thesis and restructure your argument when credible, current source material:

  • Suggests that solutions to your issue are more complex than you first believed.

  • Offers that there are multiple solutions to the same problem.

  • Reveals that there are newer, evidence-based paths to positive change.

  • Provides new research that indicates your current thinking might be flawed.

  • Indicates that your issue might be one part of a much larger problem that requires far greater change than you imagined.

What Type of Sources can I Use?

What type of sources can I use?

Keep an open mind about:

Image: Showing ways to keep an open mind in research process

Murrell Library and Commons both provide a wide variety of sources

Books & eBooks:

Domesticated book cover

Besides tens of thousands of print titles, we also provide access to thousands of E-books. One of the best places to start your research is to use one of several hundred reference e-books in Credo Reference:

Image: Linked button for Credo Reference booksEBSCO eBooks

Journal Articles (Print and electronic):

Articles are especially good for more detailed, specific research. Our databases provide online access to tens of thousands of publications.Nature

* Magazines
Trade Publications
Scholarly Academic JournalsScience
* Newspapers

DVD and Streaming Audio and Video (Overdrive, Opposing Viewpoints, Films on Demand, etc.):

 Image: DVD Cover: Freedom Riders from PBS Video

The Library has a large number of non-fiction DVDs on many topics college students write about.Image: Films on Demand Logo - links to database of films
We also subscribe to Films on Demand, which you can access on and
off campus. Films on Demand offers thousands of documentary and educational videos for every academic and many college programs.

Finding Variety: Your research or
exploratory essay will be far better if you:

  • Seek out and review a variety of sources.
  • Go well beyond the 'minimum requirements' of your assignment.
  • Search for sources in library catalogs, databases, and Google Scholar instead of just the web.
  • Conduct several searches using a variety of terminology related to your topic.
  • Ask in the library: "What might I be missing?" once you have searched for a variety of resources.
  • Books and documentary (non-fiction) videos are great for: Addressing the basic facts, history, background or major themes for your topic.

Consider sources beyond Missouri Valley College

As a MVC student, you have have borrowing privileges for print materials (including books and journal articles) from other Missouri libraries (and beyond!) through Interlibrary Loan. As long as you allow yourself some lead-time, there's no reason your search for sources needs to be limited to our materials and electronic sources.

Using Interviews, surveys, and other communications (From Purdue Owl)

Scholarly and Peer-Reviewed Articles

Why scholarly? Why peer-reviewed?

Especially when you use library databases for your research, some of articles you discover will likely be 'scholarly'. Most of the time this means that those who have conducted research in their field have published their findings in an academic journal. The most credible type of journals are those that have published articles following a rigorous 'peer-review' process. In this case the 'peers' are other experts in the field.

Use a database that indexes peer-reviewed journals, such as PsycInfo, ERIC, or CINAHL. Many databases offer the option to limit results to "Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed Journals."

Scan the abstract of any article to identify words typically used in original research, such as "methods," "data," "results," "findings," or "conclusions." If the abstract includes some combination of these terms, there's a good chance that it is scholarly or peer-reviewed.

Still unsure if the article comes from a peer-reviewed journal? Identify the name of the journal in which the article was originally published, and find the publication's home site on the Internet. Look for information "About" the journal and its editorial standards. If the journal says that submissions are reviewed by an editorial panel of the author's peers, then it is a peer-reviewed journal.

Scholarly or peer-reviewed sources:

  • are written for and reviewed by fellow academics or researchers in the field

  • are excellent for finding out what has been studied or researched on a topic

  • contain original research or in-depth study in the field

  • provide extensive references leading to other relevant sources of information

  • use the technical language of the field

For example:

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice journal cover

 

"Ethical Theory and Moral Practice: An International Forum is a double blind peer-reviewed journal which aims to publish the best work produced in all fields of ethics. It welcomes high quality submissions regardless of the tradition or school of thought from which they derive." (About this journal from Springer Publishing)

Scholarly or peer-reviewed sources:

  • are written for and reviewed by fellow academics or researchers in the field

  • are excellent for finding out what has been studied or researched on a topic

  • contain original research or in-depth study in the field

  • provide extensive references leading to other relevant sources of information

  • use the technical language of the field

International Journal of Nursing Sciences
(An open-access peer-reviewed journal available online in PubMed Central)

Licensing

The contents of the Information Literacy Tutorial may be reused with attribution. Please copy the following into new works based on the Information Literacy Tutorial.