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Research Success for Today’s Students Tomorrow’s Teachers: Use this! Not That! and Search Tips

Use This! Not That!

What are scholarly journals and how are they different from popular magazines?

For some assignments, you will be required to search for scholarly, peer reviewed journals (especially in AP courses and college courses). Scholarly journals are published by a professional society or association. In order for articles to be included in some scholarly journals, they must be reviewed and accepted by an editorial board. These journals are known as juried, refereed or peer reviewed journals. Popular, news, or opinion magazines (for example Time magazine) provide an “average person’s view of an issue”. These magazines do not report results of research projects, have a peer review process or include annotated bibliographies.

What are primary and secondary resources of research?

Primary sources report the results of original studies and represent the latest information on a topic. Secondary sources can be reviews of several primary sources in a particular research area and are not meant to provide the reader with the same detail as in primary sources. Examples of primary sources: journal articles, dissertations. Secondary sources: review articles (critique several studies, often “review” in the title), chapters in books, handbooks (books about general areas of a specific subject) and annual reviews.

Use Boolean operators and truncation

Boolean operators: (AND, OR, NOT) combine search terms to narrow or broaden results

Wildcard: (# or ?) Replaces a character, for example, “ne#t” or “ne?t” finds neat, nest, or next by will not find net.

Truncation: (*) Replaces any number of characters and will find all forms of a word root, for example “therap*” finds therapy, therapies, therapist, therapists, therapeutic, etc.


What is the difference between keywords and subject terms?

Keywords are taken from the article and represent the natural language used by the author. Authors or journal editors may provide the keywords. Subject terms are controlled vocabulary terms. An example of a set of controlled vocabulary is from the National Library of Medicine - Medical Subject Headings (MESH).

Why is Citing Your Sources Important?

  1. You provide evidence to back up your point in your research.
  2. You provide information to the reader to find the resource you mentioned in your paper.
  3. If you don't cite your source (or give credit to the resource you used), it is regarded as plagiarism.

How to Cite Your Sources

There are many resources available to help you cite. You need to know what citation format is required for the paper (is it MLA, APA, Chicago?) To help you with the format of the citation, you could use a citation generator tool like NoodleTools or EasyBib.

Here are some citation how-to guides:

Subject Librarian

Hedda Monaghan's picture
Hedda Monaghan
Henry Whittemore Library
(508) 626-4664