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During your studies at Trent many of your course instructors will be asking you to use scholarly articles for your research. It will be your responsibility to learn:
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Put simply, scholarly articles are articles written by scholars, covering a subject in the author's area of expertise, and published in journals, usually following a "peer-review" process.
The scholars are most often University professors (with a PhD), such as those teaching your courses. As well as teaching, professors actively pursue research in their subject area.
A journal is an academic version of a magazine.
The "peer-review" process ensures that no research or paper is automatically accepted as valid.
Scholarly communication is the process of learning from these articles, applying the information toward further research, and publishing new articles. This also allows scholars to comment, critique, and respond to the work of others, through these scholarly journals.
This process is an ongoing conversation between experts. They read the research of others, then build upon it, taking it a step further or possibly in a different direction. It's how our collective knowledge grows.
This is a process that takes some time to get used to; it's not as easy as "googling". There isn't any one way of finding all scholarly articles written on any topic. The method varies with the subject and topic you are researching, the depth of your research, and your familiarity with library resources.
Generally, an index is the gateway to scholarly journal literature.
Almost all indexes are online, so if you have good keyword searching skills, you can find articles quickly. Online indexes often (but not always) link to the online articles, too. But they can only get you the articles for which you have legal online access, and those are usually the journals our Library subscribes to.
The process of using indexes to find articles is covered later, in our Finding Articles tutorial.
Scholarly articles aren't easily located by using an Internet search engine such as Google. That's because the articles are only available to people or institutions who have subscribed to them, and Google can't provide access to them. (See more information about using Google below.)
The Trent Library enables access to online articles and their indexes through our subscriptions, and you only have access to them as long as you are a student here. You'll even need to use the Proxy Server (see link below) if you're not working on a campus computer.
You'll likely need to know about using indexes in your first or second year of study at Trent, but it won't be taught in class. There's a tutorial that explains how to use indexes to find articles. (You probably need to read that too, if you haven't already.)
The follow links may be helpful.
There's an art to recognizing legitimate scholarly resources. Think of J-A-B-s-a to remember what to look for:
The link below connects you to our online tutorial for recognizing scholarly sources using JABsa. It takes about 20 minutes to read it through, and there are exercises included, to help you practice. Read it now, so you have some background when you need to start the process.
Scholarly articles are written for scholars, so they are NOT light reading. They're usually many pages long and complex. You need practice. The more you read them, the easier it gets.
Scholarly articles are commonly written with labeled sections:
When you're first presented with an article, think about what you hope to learn from it and then look for evidence of that.
Once you've determined if the article is useful to your topic, read it in its entirety. That's the only way you can understand how the works in the bibliography are connected to the topic, and the context of the conclusions.
You can't use someone else's ideas as your own - that's plagiarism. (You know this already! Yet because so many students don't always remember or understand, you'll hear a lot about this from your Profs.)
When you read papers and books, you get ideas from them. Your responsibility in writing your paper, is to thread together those ideas in a cohesive manner to come up with thoughts of your own. Always acknowledge where the ideas came from originally, using quotes and references in your paper. You'll see that done all the time in the scholarly articles you're reading.
You'll be hearing more about Academic Integrity from the Academic Skills Centre.
When you incorporate the ideas from other documents into your own paper, you create citations for them. This enables your readers to locate the same works for their own research. Citations follow a specific format, so that others can easily tell what type of document it is and determine how to locate it. This is a vital part of scholarly communication. You'll also benefit from it when you read a paper with a good bibliography and you use that bibliography to identify other useful articles for your research.
Your course instructors will specify which referencing style you are expected to use for your assignments. There are many different styles, and each is very specific and detailed. Often there's an official and detailed guide that describes every possible situation, right down to the spacing, periods, and commas. You refer to the style guides for specific situations. In some cases, you need to interpret how a style pertains to your specific situation because it's not clear.
The publications of the various styles (Chicago Manual of Style, APA, MLA, ACS, etc.) are available in the Library, but you may need to keep your own copy nearby. Some styles imitate a specific journal, in which case you go to the journal's website for information.
There are also online sites to help you with referencing: see our webpage on Citation Guides and the Trent Academic Skills Centre's Documentation Guide.