What are the characteristics of a scholarly publication in the digital age?
Web publishing has complicated the identification of scholarly communications. Traditional cues such as publisher, press, and durability are no longer constant in the world of digital, scholarly communications. Findings from Leah Halliday’s work with scholars, librarians, and researchers has identified three characteristics to look for in a publication:
Halliday, L. (2001). Scholarly communication, scholarly publication and the status of emerging formats.Information Research, 6(4). Retrieved from: Available at: http://InformationR.net/ir/paper111.html
Databases are collections of information. Research (academic) databases are arranged by subject area. The database you need to use for your research will depend on your topic. Use this link for the A to Z Database List to browse the available databases. You may also want to take an interdisciplinary approach to your paper; if so, use Academic Search Premier or JSTOR.
Database recommendations for English 102 are below.
Scholarly articles are published in scholarly journals. Most of these journals are discipline specific. For example if you study microbiology you might want to look in the Journal of Bacteriology. If you study Shakespeare you might look at Shakespeare Quarterly. Scholarly articles have certain things in common.
1. They are written by experts - look for an author's credentials or affiliations.
2. They are written for other experts or people in academia. Think of each scholarly work as a voice in an ongoing conversation to which you will add your voice when you write a paper.
3. They use scholarly language with technical, discipline specific vocabulary.
4. They provide verifiable and reliable evidence for claims. Even if the resource is a general history/overview it will contain well researched information that the reader can verify.
5. They may be peer reviewed. Many journals go through an editorial process where other experts review and assess the information.
Mohave Community College Libraries subscription databases provide well organized and highly selective coverage of scholarly journals.
Some databases contain scholarly journals, exclusively. Others have a mix of scholarly journals, popular magazines, newspapers and other material. In these databases, you can limit your search to scholarly (peer-reviewed) journals.
To find scholarly articles in a library database:
The below video shows how to do a basic article search from the MCC Library homepage, and how you can narrow down your searches in EBSCO to only include Peer-Reviewed material.
You need a good thesis statement for your essay but are having trouble getting started. You may have heard that your thesis needs to be specific and arguable, but still wonder what this really means.
Let's look at some examples. Imagine you're writing about John Hughes's film Sixteen Candles (1984).
You take a first pass at writing a thesis:
Sixteen Candles is a romantic comedy about high school cliques.
Is this a strong thesis statement? Not yet, but it's a good start. You've focused on a topic - high school cliques - which is a smart move because you've settled on one of many possible angles. But the claim is weak because it's not yet arguable. Intelligent people would generally agree with this statement - so there's no real "news" for your reader. You want your thesis to say something surprising and debatable. If your thesis doesn't go beyond summarizing your source, it's descriptive and not yet argumentative.
The key words in the thesis statement are "romantic comedy" and "high school cliques." One way to sharpen the claim is to start asking questions.
For example, how does the film represent high school cliques in a surprising or complex way? How does the film reinforce stereotypes about high school groups and how does it undermine them? Or why does the film challenge our expectations about romantic comedies by focusing on high school cliques? If you can answer one of those questions (or others of your own), you'll have a strong thesis.
Tip: Asking "how" or "why" questions will help you refine your thesis, making it more arguable and interesting to your readers.
Take 2. You revise the thesis. Is it strong now?
Sixteen Candles is a romantic comedy criticizing the divisiveness created by high school cliques.
You're getting closer. You're starting to take a stance by arguing that the film identifies "divisiveness" as a problem and criticizes it, but your readers will want to know how this plays out and why it's important. Right now, the thesis still sounds bland - not risky enough to be genuinely contentious.
Tip: Keep raising questions that test your ideas. And ask yourself the "so what" question. Why is your thesis interesting or important?
Take 3. Let's try again. How about this version?
Although the film Sixteen Candles appears to reinforce stereotypes about high school cliques, it undermines them in important ways, questioning its viewers' assumptions about what's normal.
Bingo! This thesis statement is pretty strong. It challenges an obvious interpretation of the movie (that it just reinforces stereotypes), offering a new and more complex reading in its place. We also have a sense of why this argument is important. The film's larger goal, we learn, is to question what we think we understand about normalcy.
As we've just seen, a strong thesis statement crystallizes your paper's argument and, most importantly, it's arguable.
This means two things. It goes beyond merely summarizing or describing to stake out an interpretation or position that's not obvious, and others could challenge for good reasons. It's also arguable in the literal sense that it can be argued, or supported through a thoughtful analysis of your sources. If your argument lacks evidence, readers will think your thesis statement is an opinion or belief as opposed to an argument.
A good thesis will be focused on your object of study (as opposed to making a big claim about the world) and will introduce the key words guiding your analysis. To get started, you might experiment with some of these "mad libs." They're thinking exercises that will help propel you toward an arguable thesis.
By examining ___________________[topic/approach], we can see ____________________[thesis- the claim that's surprising, which is important because _____________________.
"By examining Sixteen Candles through the lens of Georg Simmel's writing on fashion, we can see that the protagonist's interest in fashion as an expression of her conflicted desire to be seen as both unique and accepted by the group. This is important because the film offers its viewers a glimpse into the ambivalent yearnings of middle class youth in the 1980s.
Although readers might assume __________ [the commonplace idea you're challenging], I argue that _____________[your surprising claim].
Although viewers might assume the romantic comedy Sixteen Candles is merely entertaining, I believe its message is political. The film uses the romance between Samantha, a middle class sophomore and Jake, an affluent senior, to reinforce the fantasy that anyone can become wealthy and successful with enough cunning and persistence.
"Formulating a Thesis" was written by Andrea Scott, Princeton University. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
 Adapted from Erik Simpson’s “Five Ways of Looking at a Thesis” at http://www.math.grinnell.edu/~simpsone/Teaching/fiveways.html
It is important to draw on the work of experts to formulate your own ideas. Make sure that your sources are cited properly. Backing up your points with evidence from experts provides support for your argument or thesis statement. You are contributing to a scholarly conversation with scholars who are experts on your topic.
This is the difference between a scholarly research paper and any other paper. You must include your own voice in your analysis and ideas alongside scholars or experts.
All your sources must relate to your thesis, or central argument, whether they are in agreement or not. It is a good idea to address all sides of the argument or thesis to make your stance stronger.
The three ways to present sources in support of your central argument are:
1. Quotation - when you use the exact words from the source. You will need to put quotation marks around the words that are not your own and cite where they came from.
“It wasn’t really a tune, but from the first note the beast’s eyes began to droop…. Slowly the dog’s growls ceased – it tottered on its paws and fell to its knees, then it slumped to the ground, fast asleep” (Rowling 275).
2. Paraphrase - when you state the ideas from another source in your own words. Even when you use your own words, if the ideas or facts came from another source, you need to cite where they came from.
With the simple music of the flute, Harry lulled the dog to sleep (Rowling 275).
3. Summary - much like a paraphrase but used in cases where you are trying to give an overview of many ideas. As in paraphrasing, quotation marks are not used, but a citation is still necessary.
Through a combination of skill and their invisibility cloak, Harry, Ron, and Hermione slipped through Hogwarts to the dog’s room and down through the trapdoor within (Rowling 271-77).
With paraphrasing, you must write out the idea in your own words. Simply changing a few words from the original source or restating the information exactly using different words is considered plagiarism. If you cannot state an idea in your own words, you should use the direct quotation.
When integrating a source into your paper, remember to use these three important components:
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. A.A. Levine Books, 1998.
Image attribution: Research paper by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Pix4free:
Courtesy of The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University ©2021
Examples of work cited entries and related in-text citations.
An annotated bibliography is a list of cited sources about a particular topic, in which each citation (which adheres to MLA guidelines) is followed by a brief paragraph that discusses aspects of the source. The bibliography is useful for documenting your research in a specific area, exploring varying viewpoints, and summarizing main points from different sources.