Down the Rabbit Hole of Research

Digging into my first research paper here at Warner, I’m learning a lot, and not just about the topic I’m researching.

First, I encountered a new kind of paper, the literature review.  Even though we discussed the assignment in class, I needed a bit more guidance on the topic.  So, I attended the Writing Support Services workshop.  The workshop not only told me what a literature review was (it’s a paper whose purpose is to review and analyze scholarly materials on a topic and identify a gap in the research), but how to find a topic and organize the paper.  This was the first Writing Support Services workshop I attended and I highly recommend that all Warner students take advantage of this.

Second, I have been re-introduced to process of research.  For most papers, you will be required to support any claims you make with peer-reviewed articles.  What is a peer-reviewed article you say?  It is an article written by scholars, that has been reviewed by other scholars in the same field, and has been published in an academic journal.  This ensures the quality of the research and claims made in the article.  I have two favorite methods for finding peer-reviewed articles.rush rhees

  1. UR Library: I use UR Library’s online article and book search function. I use the advanced search function.  Here you can narrow down your search with keywords, authors, publication-type, and you can check a box to only search for peer-reviewed articles.  There is also a checkbox for searching only articles within certain subject areas like education.
  2. Google Scholar: Unlike a regular Google search (don’t use regular Google!) Google Scholar searches only academic publications.  Google will ask you to link a library – such as our own UR Lirbary – to access the article from.  Then, it will identify which articles are available at your library next to the search results.

Third and lastly, I’ve learned when to continue and when to stop searching.  One topic leads to an idea that leads to another article that leads to a new idea that leads to more articles and so on.  This is the rabbit hole of research.  Even though you want to make sure that you have enough articles to support your claims, you will not be able to read everything and write your paper in timely manner.  Ask your professor how many sources they expect you to have and let that guide the magnitude of your search.

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