Introduction

Introduction

Introduction to GEL Library Module

The GEL Library Module will teach you to evaluate information using the Visual-Quality-Ethos method and introduce you to scholarly articles. Most of you will have lessons from the library for your GEL, GEO and GEW courses. Each one of these lessons will give you another piece of the research skills puzzle. By the time you’ve completed all three courses, you will have the foundation of research skills that will carry you into your major courses and that you can use throughout your life beyond college.

Throughout this guide you will navigate the material for each section found in the tabs in the menu, which include activities where you get to apply the lessons in this module.

Next - Proceed to Part 1: Evaluating Information Online

Part 1: Evaluating Information Online

Part 1: Evaluating Information Online

Part 1: Evaluating Information Online

Research Process

A drawing of the research process steps starting with Get Assignment, then Topic, then Understand, then Analyze, then Complete, and finishing with Evaluate.

With your GEL professor, you learned about the scholarly research process and how to use that to conduct research for your classes while you’re at CSUSM. In this lesson, we are focusing on the ‘evaluating information’ part of this process. With so much information available through different sources (websites, newspapers, magazines, journals) and not all of it equally credible it is important to know how to think critically about the various aspects of an information source.

We will be learning about a method called VQE, which includes three levels of evaluation:

1. Visual: surface level
2. Quality: just below the surface
3. Ethos: deep dive

Whether you know it or not, you engage in these levels of information pretty frequently -- every time you meet a new person, read something on the internet, or any other time you encounter a piece of new information.

Let’s use the analogy of water sports to see how we can apply the Visual Quality Ethos method of information evaluation:

Visual - on the surface

This is very quick, at a glance evaluation. Evaluating information visually is only sufficient when it doesn’t matter what source you use (e.g. argument with friends, where the Starbucks is, general knowledge).

Image of a person on a jet ski with the questions: What is it? Who created it?

Things that you can quickly notice visually on source:

  • Date - when was it published, update times listed, date relevance?
  • Title - does it contain emotional cues?
  • Grammar/Spelling - are there any errors?
  • General topic
  • Ads/Pop ups
  • Author - is a name or organization mentioned?

Quality - below the surface

This level of evaluation is about determining credibility, basic purpose, content. This is the minimum level of evaluation for any source you want to use in college, whether it is for a class discussion, or for a more formal assignment.

Image of kayakers in the background and an otter in the foreground with the questions: Where do they get their information? Who is the intended audience?

Image of a snorkeler with a big fish in the foreground with the questions: How was the information created? How was the information reviewed?

Things that you might need to dig a little deeper to find out about a source’s quality:

  • Author/Organization/Credentials - Do they have the “right to write” about the topic? Credentials could mean education or experience - give examples of both.
  • References Listed - Where is the author/org getting their information?
  • Verify information with another source?
    • Do a quick Google search. Can you find this information easily?

Ethos - deep dive

Ethos in this case is referring to its “ethical appeal” -- what are they trying to convince you of, and why? When we try to evaluate the ethos of a source, we need to dig really deep and ask “big” questions.

Image of a diver next to a reef with the questions: Why does the information exist? How does it make you feel? Who funds the site? What bias does it have?

Things you can ask yourself to determine the ethos of a source:

  • What is the purpose?
  • Does it make you feel anything (note emotions while reading)?
  • Where does the funding come from?
  • Is there bias (one side favored over the other, especially in an unfair way)? Is only one side of the topic presented?

 

Now that you’ve learned this method of information evaluation -- Visual-Quality-Ethos -- let’s try it out on a couple of sample websites.

Next - Proceed to 1A. Activity: Evaluating Websites and complete those exercises to try it out.

 

1A. Activity: Evaluating Websites

1A. Activity: Evaluating Websites

Activity: Evaluating Websites

Now that you’ve learned about VQE, practice applying this method of evaluating information on some websites using the worksheet below.

Instructions:

  • Visit the two websites provided below.
  • Evaluate each website using the VQE method.
  • Follow the prompts below for Visual, Quality, and Ethos. There are suggested questions to consider for each level of evaluation.

Website Number 1 (10 mins)
Link: Is College Worth It?

Website Number 2 (10 mins)
Link: First Generation Students?

VISUAL

What is it? The URL may be helpful, otherwise, look at the home page for an “About” link. (For this, you want to identify the type of web source it is -- for instance, is it a personal blog? A newspaper article (and if so, what kind of newspaper article)? An e-book? A social media post? Etc.

 

Who made it? Look for an author, or the owner, of the site.

 

QUALITY

Where did they get their information? Look for sources in the text, or a reference list. If it is original information, think about how the information was created.

 

Who is the intended audience? How can you tell? The vocabulary and sources used might give you clues.

 

How is the information reviewed, or vetted, prior to posting/publishing? (You might have to do some digging for this.)

 

ETHOS

Why does this information, or site, exist? The “About” page may give you clues, but you might want to do some online searching to learn more.

 

Who has funded the site? Look again at the “About” page.

 

What bias does the author, owner, or site have? This is going to be the hardest to identify. Start by looking for a distinct perspective, or an asserted opinion. Keep in mind that everyone has biases; what we are interested in here is whether the information presented is slanted -- are they trying to get you to ignore evidence in any way?

 

Next - Proceed to 1B. Answers: Evaluating Websites

1B. Answers: Evaluating Websites

1B. Answers: Evaluating Websites

Answers: Evaluating Websites

Website 1: Is College Worth It?

VISUAL

What is it? The URL may be helpful, otherwise, look at the home page for an “About” link.
It is an online news article opinion piece from USA Today. It states at the top that, “This piece expresses the views of its author(s), separate from those of this publication.” Although it’s in a newspaper, opinion pieces are different from journalistic news in that it it’s main purpose is to persuade, rather than just present the facts.

Who made it? Look for an author, or the owner, of the site.
It was written by Janet Napolitano; at the bottom of the article it says she is “the former Arizona governor and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, is the president of the University of California.” Her position as UC president is relevant to the topic and holds expertise in higher education.

The About page says that USA Today was founded in 1982 and is a highly circulated news platform. It is owned by Gannett Co., Inc. USA Today is considered to be a reputable newspaper.

QUALITY

Where did they get their information? Look for sources in the text, or a reference list. If it is original information, think about how the information was created.
Many of the hyperlinks are content from the University of California, such as web pages, reports, news, and press, that address first-generation student support and success. The rest of the links are articles from other media outlets, including Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and NPR, which cover the worth of college and the economy. Other sources linked include a website called Poets & Quants for Undergrads (a social media/higher ed site geared towards business students) and a page of graduation rates from National Center for Education Statistics.

Who is the intended audience? How can you tell? The vocabulary and sources used might give you clues.
It could be prospective college/first generation students and/or their families. Since USA Today reaches a wide readership, one intended audience could be the general public or even state representatives since there are references to supporting higher education and how it benefits the economy or “pays off in multiple dividends”.

How is the information reviewed, or vetted, prior to posting/publishing?
After scrolling to the very end of the page, there is an About section that lists an editor-in-chief in About Us, various editors and fact checkers in Newsroom Staff, their guidelines and commitments in Ethical Principles, and a list of issued updated articles and clarifications in Corrections.

ETHOS

Why does this information, or site, exist? The “About” page may give you clues, but you might want to do some Google searching to learn more.
Since it is an opinion piece, the purpose was to persuade. In determining the intended audience for Quality, the vocabulary in the article was geared towards proving that college is worth it and should be supported. One way this connects to the intended audience is to inspire state representatives to fund higher education or to inspire the public to contact their representatives to support it.

Who has funded the site? Look again at the “About” page.
USA Today is owned by Gannett Co., Inc. and an online search shows that it is a newspaper publishing company with executives and board members. Their website has stock and investor information. USA Today also has quite a bit of advertising, which would bring in revenue.

What bias does the author, owner, or site have? This is going to be the hardest to identify. Start by looking for a distinct perspective, or an asserted opinion.
The author, Janet Napolitano, asserts her opinion that college is worth it and should be supported. While she is biased (due to her position as UC President and not including much about options that don’t include college) it is not in an unfair manner.

Website 2: First Generation Students?

VISUAL

What is it? The URL may be helpful, otherwise, look at the home page for an “About” link.
This is a page on the College Board website about counselling first generation college students. There is no individual name listed so this is a case of an organization as the author.

Who made it? Look for an author, or the owner, of the site.
In the About section the College Board describes itself as a “not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success.” It is governed by a board of trustees and assemblies. The College Board makes its money by charging people to take their tests (SATs, PSATs, etc.) as well as all of the prep classes that go along with these tests.

QUALITY

Where did they get their information? Look for sources in the text, or a reference list. If it is original information, think about how the information was created.
This page only has hyperlinks to other documents and pages on their website, also without an individual author. At the bottom of the website there is a section for Research, which states that the “Research department actively supports the College Board mission.” While links to those pages mention researching various aspects of academia and college and links to research that support their programs, they do not cite the research itself in their webpages. You should be asking -- Why are they not linking to external sources? This is red flag!

Who is the intended audience? How can you tell? The vocabulary and sources used might give you clues.
While college students, their families, and educators may benefit from the information on this webpage, the target audience for this would be counselors. It lists strategies for counselors to guide first-generation students in applying to college.

How is the information reviewed, or vetted, prior to posting/publishing?
Based on the information in the About sections, there is nothing about how information is reviewed before publishing on their general website. While their Research page mentions Research and Psychometrics teams, there is still no mention of how the content on their website is reviewed. On company websites (such as the College Board), typically the marketing department is responsible for the content on their websites. You should ask yourself -- What expertise do marketers have in this area? Another red flag!

ETHOS

Why does this information, or site, exist? The “About” page may give you clues, but you might want to do some Google searching to learn more.
The College Board website has content that promotes sharing and using their programs and resources needed to prepare for and navigate college. In this case, the web page is encouraging counselors to talk to first generation students about AP classes, take standardized tests, and to point them to College Board articles.

Who has funded the site? Look again at the “About” page.
Their about page states they are a not-for-profit. An online search shows that they are quite profitable and make millions.

What bias does the author, owner, or site have? This is going to be the hardest to identify. Start by looking for a distinct perspective, or an asserted opinion.
The College Board has a stake in students and educators using their programs and resources, which is how they make revenue. They have a vested interest in getting students to apply to college so that they have to take their tests. They have a financial incentive to make signing up for their tests as easy as possible -- another red flag that should make you look critically at the information they provide.

Now -- ask yourself: which of these two sites (the opinion piece from USA Today and the College Board website) would be ok to use for general background information for a GEL research assignment?

Review:

We learned how to evaluate information resources using the Visual, Quality, Ethos assessment technique.

You can use this technique to work on your upcoming GEL Information Literacy Unit Research Assignment (as well as any other information you may encounter).

Next, we’ll go over the Analyze portion of the research process and we’ll learn how to effectively read scholarly articles.

Next - Proceed to 1C. Activity: Reading and Analyzing a Scholarly Article

1C. Activity: Reading and Analyzing a Scholarly Article

1C. Activity: Reading and Analyzing a Scholarly Article

Activity: Reading and Analyzing a Scholarly Article

In this section, you will learn about scholarly articles and will learn some tips that will make reading them a little bit easier. Keep in mind that scholarly articles are usually pretty difficult to understand, so don't get discouraged if you have a hard time understanding it!!

Instructions:

  1. Watch: What is a Scholarly Article?
  2. Read: Experiences of medical students who are first in family to attend university
  3. Review: Briefly review the Reading Scholarly Articles Tips below. We will revisit these in a later section, but it's helpful to get familiar with them now.

Reading Scholarly Articles Tips

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 **

Next - Proceed to Part 2: Scholarly Superpowers

Part 2: Scholarly Superpowers

Part 2: Scholarly Superpowers

Part 2: Scholarly Superpowers

You just learned about scholarly articles. Now, let's learn about the people who write them - scholars. 

A “scholar” is “a specialist in a particular branch of study”. All of your professors at CSUSM are scholars, and you are on your way to becoming student-scholars. While students take in information, student-scholars begin to create new information and contribute to the scholarly output of a university.

Let’s review the three main disciplinary groups that you will see here at CSUSM: humanities, social sciences, and sciences. It’s important to know that all of these scholars seek to understand the world around us, but they each see the world differently and ask (and answer) questions in different ways.

Drawing of scholar with glasses and a stack of books

Humanities scholars seek to understand the world around us by examining cultural artifacts. Cultural artifacts are things that humans have created and left behind. What kinds of items might be included? iPhones, songs, tv shows and movies, books, poems, people, events, thought, religious beliefs, art, etc. They examine these things by looking at the history surrounding them, other conversation that has taken place about them, and use theories and other ideas to explain the meaning of these items. What majors might be included in this group?

Literature, Languages, Fine Arts, Philosophy, History

 

Drawing of a social scientist with a magnifying glass looking at buildings and people

Social scientists seek to understand human behavior and how people interact with each other, political systems, their environment, etc. They may use the scientific method, as well as observation, interviews, surveys etc. What majors might be included in this group?

Sociology, Anthropology, Economics, Geography, Political Science

 

Drawing of a scientist in a lab coat

Scientists seek to understand the world around us by observing and describing natural phenomena. Natural phenomena are things that exist without humans creating them. They use the scientific method to collect evidence that will prove or disprove their hypothesis. The scientific method is a very rigid and structured methodology that scientists strictly adhere to. What majors might be included in this group?

Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy, Physics, Applied Mathematics

Example - how different types of scholars approach a phenomenon differently

We’ve described how these scholars may see the world differently, but let’s talk about a specific example. Imagine that three scholars (someone from the Humanities, a Social Scientist, and a Scientist) are at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Don’t know what the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is? Go to Wikipedia and spend 5 minutes reading about it and try to learn:

  1. What it is
  2. How large it is
  3. Where it is
Photo of marine debris in North Pacific Ocean full of fishing net and rope

Image of Great Pacific Garbage Patch from National Geographic

 

The humanities scholar might be looking at the garbage patch and using it as inspiration for a musical piece that evokes sounds of environmental consumerism.

The social scientist might be looking at how they can influence individual perceptions and beliefs about protecting the oceans and marine life.

The scientist might be looking at the garbage patch and how seabirds that live in this area are impacted by the pollutants found in the patch.  

Even though they are all together at the same place, they see it in different ways -- and they are all trying to understand it from their unique disciplinary perspectives and to contribute their understanding to human knowledge.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch Scholarly Research

Not surprisingly, there are actual researchers who have been asking questions and trying to learn more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Below, you will see some examples of citations and abstracts from actual scholarly articles.

What’s an abstract? An abstract is a brief summary of a scholarly article. It usually appears at the top of the article -- sometimes it is labeled and sometimes it isn’t.
First, let’s look at an article written by someone from the Humanities
Its citation is in MLA format (you might be familiar with it from your GEW classes).

Humanities

Highlighted in italics are clues to the discipline of the research being conducted.  Humanities often use theory and DISCOURSE  to seek to explain the world. Discourse is written or spoken communication or conversation about a topic where there is typically an exchange of ideas.

Highlighted in bold is the language that is utilized by humanities researchers.  As students engage with this literature they will become more familiar with it; at 1sit is seems a little scary and overwhelming.  This is perfectly NORMAL.  
   
MLA Citation:
Ottun, Joshua. “Sounds Like Garbage: Paddling Through an Imaginary Island of Trash Toward a New Sonic Ecology.” Social Alternatives, vol. 33, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 52-59. EBSCOhost,
http://ezproxy.csusm.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=96402387&site=ehost-live

In 2011, American electronic musician James Ferraro released Far Side Virtual, a 'rubbery plastic symphony for global warming, dedicated to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch' (Gibb 2011). Cobbled together with general MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) sounds, abrasive hi-def production values, and repetitive melodic gestures, Far Side Virtual beckons the listener to engage with the timbres of environmental consumption. By referencing visual, textual, and virtual aesthetics of corporate computer culture, Ferraro accentuates the ubiquitous sonic branding practices of the digital experience. As the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre circulates in an endless cycle, bits of microplastic converge and diverge in a 5000 square kilometre space. This decentralised concentration of debris does not fit the typical mould of a muse for musical composition. Yet Ferraro's attempt to encapsulate the sonic signifiers of the very gadgets and processes leading to such waste provides a refreshed space for music and environment to engage. This paper positions the elusive, shape-shifting soundscape of Far Side Virtual as a dynamic example of sonic ecology in praxis, both mirroring and sounding out the physical and aural realities of consumption and its complex after effects.

Social Sciences

Highlighted in italics are some of the context clues that help identify this article as being in the Social Sciences.  Here we see attitudes and behaviors which are items that researchers can observe and measure.

Highlighted in bold is how researchers in this discipline use terminology.

APA Citation:
Wyles, K. J., Pahl, S. White, M. Morris, S. Cracknell, D. & Thompson, R. C. (2013). Towards a marine mindset: Visiting an aquarium can improve attitudes and intentions regarding marine sustainability. Visitor Studies, 16(1), 95-110. doi: 10.1080/10645578.2013.768077

The oceans are crucial for human survival, yet they are under serious threat from humans, for example through overfishing and poor waste management. We investigated two questions. First, does a leisure visit to an aquarium improve visitor attitudes and intentions towards marine sustainability, specifically regarding overfishing and pollution? Second, does an information booklet handed out in addition to the visit have additional measurable impact? Aquarium visitors (n = 104) completed a questionnaire on marine sustainability attitudes and behavioral intentions before and after their visit. Half of the visitors also were given informational materials that offered behavioral solutions to the problem of overfishing. The aquarium visit significantly improved visitors’ overall attitudes and intentions. The information booklet additionally improved intentions significantly, but not attitudes. These findings show that a visit to an aquarium can help individuals develop what we term a marine mindset, a state of readiness to address marine sustainability issues. Implications, limitations, and ideas for further research are discussed.

 

Sciences

Highlights in italics discuss how research in the sciences are looking at natural phenomenon; in this case they scholars are examining risk factors associated with hepatitis A infection

Highlighted in bold are langage/terms used in sciences and research in general

CSE Citation:
Chu, S, Wang, J. Woodward, LA, Letcher, RJ, Li, QX. 2015. Perfluoroalkyl sulfonates and carboxylic acids in liver, muscle and adipose tissues of black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) from Midway Island, North Pacific Ocean. Chemosphere, 138: 60-66.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is a gyre of marine plastic debris in the North Pacific Ocean, and nearby is Midway Atoll which is a focal point for ecological damage. This study investigated 13 C 4 –C 16 perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs), four (C 4 , C 6 , C 8 and C 10 ) perfluorinated sulfonates and perfluoro-4-ethylcyclohexane sulfonate [collectively perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs)] in black-footed albatross tissues (collected in 2011) from Midway Atoll. Of the 18 PFCAs and PFSAs monitored, most were detectable in the liver, muscle and adipose tissues. The concentrations of PFCAs and PFSAs were higher than those in most seabirds from the arctic environment, but lower than those in most of fish-eating water birds collected in the U.S. mainland. The concentrations of the PFAAs in the albatross livers were 7-fold higher than those in Laysan albatross liver samples from the same location reported in 1994. The concentration ranges of PFOS were 22.91–70.48, 3.01–6.59 and 0.53–8.35 ng g −1 wet weight (ww), respectively, in the liver, muscle and adipose. In the liver samples PFOS was dominant, followed by longer chain PFUdA (8.04–18.70 ng g −1 ww), PFTrDA, and then PFNA, PFDA and PFDoA. Short chain PFBA, PFPeA, PFBS and PFODA were below limit of quantification. C 8 –C 13 PFCAs showed much higher composition compared to those found in other wildlife where PFOS typically predominated. The concentrations of PFUdA in all 8 individual albatross muscle samples were even higher than those of PFOS. This phenomenon may be attributable to GPGP as a pollution source as well as PFAA physicochemical properties.

 

As you start in your major courses, you will start to use the methodology and writing style for your discipline, give credit to the ideas of scholars that you read, and create your own knowledge, as student-scholars.

What will your superpowers be?

Next - Proceed to Part 3: Identifying Scholarly Articles using VQE

Part 3: Identifying Scholarly Articles using VQE

Part 3: Identifying Scholarly Articles using VQE

Part 3: Identifying Scholarly Articles using VQE

In a previous section we learned about how to evaluate sources using VQE and practiced applying it on two websites. Now that you’ve read the assigned scholarly article using the tips and learned about how scholars in different disciplines approach research, let’s come back to VQE so that we can apply it to scholarly sources.

To get started, think about:

Visual: How is the scholarly article different from the web articles encountered in the previous lesson? What are the visual differences?

Quality: What do you know about the quality of the article?

Ethos: Why does this article exist?

Activity:

In the last lesson we applied the VQE model of information evaluation to background sources. Now let’s apply this to determine if an article is scholarly. Some of the criteria might overlap with the websites you evaluated (hint: author and credibility). You can also use the video you watched (What is a Scholarly Article?) and the assigned article as a reference to build your criteria of evaluation.

What do you identify as the VISUAL clues that would help you decide if an article the source is scholarly?

What do you know about the QUALITY of scholarly articles?

What do we know about the ETHOS (characteristics or guiding principles) of scholarly articles?

Here are some possible answers. What are some others you thought of?

VISUAL QUALITY ETHOS
  • Length of article (typically 5-20 pages)
  • List of references at the end
  • Charts and graphs
  • Has an abstract
  • No advertisements
  • Some articles may say ‘research article’ at the top
  • Author(s) are experts - their education/expertise matches the topic they are talking about
  • Credentials show they work for an institution; college/university/research institute
  • Author credentials are within the discipline they are researching and publishing in
  • Journal is peer reviewed before publication (you might have to search online to find this)
  • Cites other work used in their research
  • The purpose of the article -- should be to inform
  • Who the article written for -- mainly for other experts in the field, but also for students/scholars
  • If there is an indication of bias
  • Some journals provide a statement of interest.  This can help determine if there is a conflict of interest.

Tip: If it isn’t clear whether an article is “peer-reviewed” you can use your favorite search engine to look up the name of the journal and read about their editorial process

Engaging with Scholarly Sources

In the video ‘What is a Scholarly Article?,’ we learned that scholarly articles are written by experts for other experts to advance the field of study in an academic discipline. Yet as emerging student scholars we ask you as students to engage with these types of articles.

As students you will be creating new knowledge by using scholarly articles as evidence in your research assignments.

Using VQE, you have a way to help you determine whether an article is scholarly or not.
We now need to apply a means of evaluating if a scholarly article helps answer your research inquiry/question.

Next - Proceed to 3A. Answers: Reading and Analyzing a Scholarly Article

3A. Answers: Reading and Analyzing a Scholarly Article

3A. Answers: Reading and Analyzing a Scholarly Article

Answers: Reading and Analyzing a Scholarly Article

Using the article you read in the previous section answer the questions on the tipsheet:

Stage 1: Title + Abstract
Does the title and abstract indicate that it will help you understand your topic in detail?
This would depend on your research question so compare what the answer might be when seeking these answers:

  • What are the barriers that first generation medical students face?
  • What are the advantages of students who are first in the family to attend medical school?

Remember to read the abstract 2 - 3 times to help determine if the article is worth your time.

Stage 2: Introduction + Conclusion
What did the authors want to learn; what did they study? (thesis statement, research question, hypothesis)
The introduction tells you what the researchers intended the study to show and examine. In this case, researchers wanted to learn what barriers are faced by first in family medical students with a low socioeconomic status as well as what they miss out on socio-culturally.

This article doesn’t have a section labelled ‘Conclusion’ but the next sections in Stage 3 have helpful headings and subheadings to break down the research findings.

Stage 3: Results + Discussion
What did the authors learn about their topic? (use quotation marks for direct quotes)
Results section shares the outcome of their study: “Although these students brought particular assets with them, encoded in their habitus, quite different resources proved to count as valued capital within the field of medical education. The role of each form of capital, and how it mediated between FiF students’ habitus and the field of medical education, is discussed in turn.”

What are some specific examples you can use from the Results? (use quotation marks for direct quotes)
The results identified three forms of capital: social, economic, and cultural. An example of lack of social capital is: “Feeling like what Bourdieu calls a ‘fish out of water’ as her habitus confronted an unfamiliar field,14 this student had struggled to cope with the shift to university study and had had to repeat several sections of the degree programme.”

Discussion section shares implications of study that acknowledges what authors learned and what they may need to change in future research. This also helps other researchers pick up the study where these researchers left off:
“A specific issue requiring further investigation refers to the implications of the stress experienced by students in financial difficulty and its impact on their studies, including the pressure to negotiate new social identities.”

 

Remember that Stage 3 is the place to locate a “direct quote” that will serve as evidence for your thesis/research paper.

Proceed to:

3B. Review

3B. Review

3B. Review

Review & Finish

Now that you’ve read, evaluated, and analyzed a scholarly article you are more familiar with how to engage with scholars and their research. As students-scholars in the making you will also learn to build off this research and create new knowledge.

With these newly developed skills you will be working on coming up with a research question which will be the basis for searching the databases for scholarly articles.

General Library Videos