Monday, September 28, 2009

What makes scholarly sources scholarly?

Often, you will be asked to use scholarly sources for your papers and projects. Many of the Library's databases consist entirely of scholarly articles, for instance, JSTOR, ScienceDirect, PsycArticles, SocIndex, and Medline. Nearly all the other databases have an option on the search screen to limit your search to all scholarly (all peer reviewed) results.

But what is it about a book or an article that makes it scholarly?

"Scholarly research" boils down to a system for verifying facts and logic. It's a set of checks and balances to prevent errors, nonsense, and lies, from being passed off as good information. A scholarly researcher first learns the ideas and findings of others in the field. The researcher then develops a hypothesis and designs and implements a methodology to prove or disprove that hypothesis.

Scholarly also means "by scholars and intended to be read by other scholars." Popular sources have articles that are intended to be interesting and comprehensible for as many people as possible. They have to leave out some details and simplify others. Scholarly sources have more detailed, advanced, sophisticated information. And it's closer to the source, not translated for you by another non-expert.

In the peer review process, an article being considered for publication is inspected by two or more other subject area experts. They question whether the author did enough background research, used a solid methodology, collected data properly, and interpreted statistics accurately. They look for logic flaws, signs of bias or agenda, outdated or discredited information, and more. The article may be rejected; if it is accepted, the author must fix all the problems before it can be published. Scholarly books (also called monographs) are not peer reviewed, but subject expert editors perform the same function.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

In honor of Eid, some Muslim history, religion, and culture resources.

Eid ul-Fitr (the Celebration of Breaking the Fast) is the Muslim celebration at the end of Ramadan.

According to Muslim belief, the prophet Muhammad spent the lunar month of Ramadan praying and fasting in the wilderness, and was given the Quran. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and work on the virtues of purity, self-control, compassion, and generosity. Part of the Ramadan observance is contributing an extra donation to the needy above and beyond monthly alms. At the end of Ramadan, Eid ul-Fitr is celebrated with feasting, family gatherings and visiting, and special prayers that ask for forgiveness, mercy, and help for all living beings.

This year Ramadan lasted from August 22 until September 20, and Eid ul-Fitr is today.

Web Resources:
Library Resources:
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In honor of the Jewish holidays, some Jewish history, religion, and culture resources

Rosh Hashanah (the Day of Judgment, also called the Jewish New Year) began this past Friday at sundown. At sundown on Sunday the 27th, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) begins. These are the two holiest holidays in the Hebrew calendar. The period between them is a time for prayer, introspection, and making amends for past wrongdoing. On both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, observant Jews abstain from work and attend religious services. In addition, on Yom Kippur, they must fast.

Web Resources:
Library Resources:
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Use RefWorks as storage for documents, images, etc.


The library provides RefWorks (http://www.esc.edu/refworks), an online tool for gathering and organizing bibliographic information. It inserts into your paper in perfectly formatted footnotes (or endnotes or in-text citations) in whatever citation style you like - APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.

What's less well known is how RefWorks can function as online storage and organization for your files. This includes documents, spreadsheets, images, and audiovideo files. For example, you might store a draft of the paper you're writing, some maps and graphs that you'll include in the paper, and a recorded interview that you're using as a primary source. Any kind of file at all can be attached to a record and stored in a folder.* RefWorks' system of folders lets you keep your research materials organized by course or project.

If you are going to use RefWorks for content storage, first you should learn how to create a RefWorks record and put it in a folder. You will find these tutorials helpful: http://www.refworks.com/tutorial/

You can attach files to a record for an actual research resource, or you can create a dummy record like, "Maps for my American History Paper." Select the desired record, and click the "View" link next to it. Click the "Edit" button at the top left of the page. The "Attachments" option will become visible. Click the "Browse" button next to it, and find the file you wish to attach on your computer. Double-click that item, and click the "Add Attachment" button. You can add as many attachments as you like to a record.

Files that you store this way will not be lost if you have a power surge that harms your computer, lose your thumb drive, or simply forget to bring it. You can access them from any computer that has an Internet connection. You can use RefWorks to keep them safe and accessible, and also insert them into your documents as needed.

* It's legal to have a copy of a copyrighted work for personal educational use, but it's illegal to put it where someone might access it. Never share RefWorks folders that include attached copyrighted files.
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Monday, September 7, 2009

In honor of Labor Day, some labor studies resources

Labor Day has been celebrated in the United States since the 1880s. Traditionally, it was a day of parades, speeches, and picnics to show the strength and solidarity of the workers' movement. The Labor Movement in the United States has been responsible for a number of things that many of us now take for granted: weekends, 8 hour days, paid sick time and vacations, pensions, health insurance, and safe workplaces.

The Labor Studies Subject Guide is your starting place for research on the labor movement and labor history, past and present. It will direct you to e-books, journal article databases, and selected web sites. You can access it through the link above, or by going to the Online Library website at http://www.esc.edu/library. Click "Research By Subject" and then scroll down and click "Labor Studies." You can navigate the subject guide with the blue tabs going across the top.

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