Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Research Process: Finding Articles

In the last installment in our series of blog posts on the Research Process we discussed how the timeliness of articles and other resources not only influence your information searches, but also how issues such publication dates can impact decisions made on a work’s relevancy to your research needs.  In today’s post, we’ll explore how an article’s intended audiences can be a factor as well.

Many of the articles for which you’ll be searching to support your research assignments are found in periodicals.  Periodicals are publications printed and distributed in regular intervals. 

Some periodicals designed for mass appeal and large public audiences with which you might already be familiar are newspapers and magazines.  Articles in these publications are written to be easily read. Authors of such articles are usually journalist who may not even be credited for their work.

Examples of Newspapers and Magazines (print/paper format) from Davis Library's Periodical Collection

Scholarly publications (also known as journals) may be fairly new to undergraduate students.   These items are often geared to specific parties within the academic or scientific community.  Students, faculty or professionals working in particular fields of study use these types of works to share their ideas and research findings.   Most journal articles are lengthy, have gone through an extensive peer-review process and contain reference lists so that author’s research may be explored further.  Such journals may also contain book reviews and brief editorials relevant to a specific area of interest.
Examples of Scholarly Publications/Journals (print/paper format) from Davis Library's Periodical Collection

Trade publications are also periodicals geared toward those working in certain fields of study or industries.  Unlike the in-depth research-oriented articles typically found in scholarly publications, the writings included in these resources tend to focus on news, best practices and current trends related to a specified profession or discipline.  While these articles may discuss research conducted in a particular field of study, most often they’ll only present brief reports or overviews of the different investigations made.
Examples of Trade Publications (print/paper format) from Davis Library's Periodical Collection
For a brief, but thorough comparison of these various article sources, watch the video below created by the Peabody Library at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Your thesis as well as the size and scope of research project’s goals will influence what types of articles you look for and select to support your assignment.  For example, you may be interested in how women’s magazines have covered topics certain health issues over the years.  So, your search might involve finding articles from popular titles like Redbook and Good Housekeeping.  In another instance, your instructor may be requiring you to consult only articles from peer-reviewed journals for your project.   Then, sometimes if the jargon and terminology used in journal article presents a problem, looking to some trade publications in the same field of study may prove helpful.

Assessing an article’s intended audience and its relevance to your research needs are all part of the process of evaluating information, which should be ongoing as you search for and gather your sources. 

In our next “Finding Articles” post, we’ll show you how to locate and access the different types of articles we’ve discussed here.  In the meantime, if you do have questions, please…  “Ask Us!


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