Finding Scholarly Articles
Library Databases for the Social Sciences
Communication & Mass Media Complete - Provides abstracts and full text for more than 200 communication journals.
ERIC - A national database of education literature, including reports and journal articles.
PsycINFO - A comprehensive international database of psychology, covering the academic, research, and practice literature in psychology from over 45 countries in more than 30 languages.
Sociological Abstracts - Provides access to the latest international findings in theoretical and applied sociology, social science, and political science.
You can find additional databases listed by subject on this page.
What is a scholarly article?
A scholarly article is how researchers (scholars) communicate the findings and analysis of their research. Scholarly articles:
- Provide original research and analysis - these articles are based on studies or experiements, or analyze an artifact or event. Every scholarly article presents something new about the world we didn't know before.
- Are written by scholars - scholars tend to hold PhDs, or other advanced degrees and are professors at universities.
- Are published in peer-reviewed journals - you won't find these floating about on the internet, they have to be published in a journal. Most times you'll find them in the library databases.
- Might be hard to read - they act as the primary conversation between scholars about a field of study. Since they are written by scholars, for scholars, they contain specialized language that might be hard for the lay person to understand.
Reading Scholarly Articles
Reading Scholarly Articles
Reading a peer-reviewed journal article is a multi-step process. By focusing your attention on specific sections, you will be able to decide whether or not the article will be useful to you.
Stage 1: Title + Abstract
The title and abstract for an article will give you the purpose of the article, a small amount of context, and a summary of the findings. After reading the title and abstract:
Does the title and abstract indicate that it will help you understand your topic in detail? (it implies it will support your thesis statement or provide answers to your research question).
If the answer is YES move to stage #2
If the answer is NO, locate a different article
Stage 2: Introduction + Conclusion
These sections will include the purpose of the article along with the main conclusion. After reading these sections:
What did the authors want to learn; what did they study? (thesis statement, research question, hypothesis)
Stage 3: Results + Discussion
The Results or Findings section include specific pieces of data, statistics or examples from the study. The Discussion or Analysis section will interpret these results and help you understand why these results are important. These are sections where you can take direct quotes to use in your own papers. After reading these sections:
What did the authors learn about their topic? (use quotation marks for direct quotes)
What are some specific examples you can use from the Results? (use quotation marks for direct quotes)
Stage 4: Methodology & Literature Review (optional)
The Literature Review summarized the research that was done prior to this article, and the Methodology section describes how the current experiment was conducted. These sections will be more useful as you move through your journey as student-scholars, and into your major and research methods courses.
Stage 5: Decision Making
After reading the article, you should be able to fit it with your topic, and know how to best use it in your paper. If it takes too much effort to "make it fit," set the article aside, and move on to the next one. After reading the article:
How does this article answer your research question or support your thesis statement?
If it doesn't, how can you use it otherwise?
** If you find an article that is not formatted (uses headings/sections) in this way, start with stages 1 and 2, then read from the end toward the beginning until you can answer the questions in stage 3 **
SSCI 300 Homework
For homework, please use the following article, using the reading method we discussed in class.
For fun, you can also take a look at the responses to this article:
Mauk, Gary W., Taylor, Matthew J., White, Karl R., & Allen, T. Scott. (1994). Comments on Stack and Gundlach's "The effect of country music on suicide:" an "Achy Breaky Heart" may not kill you. (response to Steven Stack and James Gundlach, Social Forces, vol. 71, p. 211, 1992). Social Forces, 72(4), 1249-1255.
Maguire, Edward R., & Snipes, Jeffrey B. (1994). Reassessing the link between country music and suicide. (response to Steven Stack and Jim Gundlach, Social Forces, vol. 71, p.211, 1992). Social Forces, 72(4), 1239-1243.
And lastly, a response to the response.
Stack, Steven, & Gundlach, James. (1995). Country music and suicide - individual, indirect, and interaction effects: A reply to Snipes and Maguire. (response to article in this issue). Social Forces, 74(1), 331-335.
- To give credit where credit is due;
- So your reader (professor) can get the source that you mentioned in your assignment;
- To add credibility to your research - shows you did the work;
- Avoid plagiarism.
Learn more about writing citations and avoiding plagiarism by visiting these websites:
APA Style Guides
How to find an article's DOI (Digital Object Identifier