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WR 123: Written Reasoning in the Context of Research

Resources for all sections of Writing 123 College Composition III courses at the University of Oregon

Step 3 - Finding Information

Green magnifying glass icon with checkmark inside from Noun ProjectFinding information requires a lot of skills that you may not be aware that you have or that you are developing. Use this page to learn strategies for HOW to find the most relevant information to meet your needs.

Use the sub-pages to learn WHERE to search for research on your topic or course theme.

Recommended places to start for any section of the WR 123 course:
Recommended resources for specific themes:

Selecting the Right Number of Keywords (Video Tutorial)

Check out the video from Kimbel Library to help you locate scholarly journal articles in library databases. 

The video is licensed under a Creative Commons (CC) BY-NC-ND 3.0 license: http://tinyurl.com/2t9all

Identifying and Finding Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Articles and Books

What are characteristics of scholarly sources?

In general, scholarly sources:

  • Are written by an author with an advanced degree, i.e., a college professor
  • Are written for an academic audience
  • Contain a credible list of citations/references
  • Include in-text citations
  • Often contain an abstract, literature review, methodology, results, or discussion
  • May or may not be "Peer Reviewed"

How can I tell if a source is scholarly?

  • Articles published in scholarly journals which cover academic and scientific research. Scholarly journals are often referred to as "peer-reviewed" or "refereed" journals. Journals can also be scholarly or academic, but not have the extra level of quality control known as "peer review."

  • Books are not "peer-reviewed," like articles. Instead, they are written by academic scholars, and edited and published (most often) by academic or university presses, e.g.: Routledge, IGI Global, or Oregon State University Press. A book review can indicate if the book is scholarly.

What does it mean when scholarly journals are peer-reviewed?

  • Some academic or scholarly journals go through an extra process called "Peer Review" before they are published. These are considered the highest quality of academic journal sources because other scholars in the same field as the author (the author's "peers") review their work.

How do I search for and find scholarly sources?


Articles in LibrarySearch 

Search in LibrarySearch* or library databases for articles and limit results by "academic sources" or "peer-reviewed sources." 

Screenshot of LibrarySearch search for alcohol restrictions by state. The search is highlighted by a green box with an arrow pointing toward the applied search filters: "Peer-reviewed Journals" and "Articles." The annotation overload on this screenshot notes "There are 26,185 articles in my search results, but only 21,844 of those articles are from scholarly "Peer-Reviewed Journals"

*LibrarySearch includes search results from many of the UO Libraries database subscriptions.

Articles in a Database

Databases often have a "Scholarly" or "Peer Review" filter option too. Here's an example from one of our EBSCO databases: 

Screenshot of Academic Search Premier (an EBSCO database) with the search terms highlighted in a green box: alcohol AND (restrictions OR regulations) AND (state OR "United States"). A dark pink box shows there are 2,879 results and the filter applied is "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals." The annotation overlaid on this screen shot says, "There are 2,879 search results for this search, and 2,825 are from scholarly or academic journals that are 'Peer-reviewed' journals."


Books

Search in LibrarySearch by title or keyword. Many of our books are "scholarly," but look for the name of the publisher to find an academic press, e.g., "Princeton University Press."

Screenshot of a LibrarySearch search for "alcohol restrictions by state" with the eBooks, Print Books, and Book chapters active filters to limit the search to those "Resource Types." The annotation overlaid on this screen shot says: 1. Select eBooks, Print Books, and Book Chapters from the "Resources Type" filter. Look for University Press publishers. If you want only print, select "Available at UO" or a Library location. 3. "UO eResources" will exclude eBooks we do not have access to.

Strategies for Narrowing your Search to get Better Results

Below are 4 top strategies to narrow your search:

  1. Use AND between keywords to find articles where two or more keywords appear together

Aspirin AND Children AND Reye's Syndrome = Venn Diagram showing overlap between all three terms indicating search results will include all three.

Image from University of Minnesota Libraries

  1. Use the filters/narrowers in the search interface to limit your search results to a specific date range or resource type (format: book, journal article, news article, etc.)

LibrarySearch showing Aspirin AND Children AND "Reye's Syndrome" with filters for Resource type: Articles and Date: 2009-2019 applied.

  1. Add a Subject Term (found in a database's Index or Thesaurus) to your search to find results that are "tagged" with that term to indicate they are "about" that topic/idea. Tip: Use just 1 or 2 Subject Terms per search so you don't get too narrow too quickly and end up with too few results.

Screenshot of Academic Search Premier Database showing the location of the thesaurus or "Subject Terms" search interface 

After adding a Subject Term to your search, click "Search" and then combine with additional keywords using AND. Note where the Subject Term shows up in your results:

Screenshot of Search using the Subject term "Reye's syndrome" and where it appears in the results

  1. Choose a database that is limited to your major, subject, or discipline. Use the link below to find a research guide with database recommendations for your discipline!

Boolean Searching Infographic

Thanks to IUPUI University Library for allowing reuse of this graphic under a Creative Commons license.

Boolean search infographic - text description available at link

Step 3: Pause to Reflect

Did you find the information you needed? Will it help you answer your research question? If not, it might be time to reach out to a Subject Librarian for an appointment.

As researchers, we should approach the evidence we find with an open mind. Research should broaden or inform our perspectives, and not confirm our own biases. If your research is just a collection of cherry-picked quotes, you may need to go back to the library catalog (LibrarySearch) or the article databases to gather more information and other perspectives to consider. 

Cherrypicking

"kirschenpflücken 2006-06by Brigitte Rieser is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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