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Literature: Introduction: How to ....

An introductory guide for High School and IB students

How to find journal articles

1.   Find the correct search terms

The first step in your research is to find the correct search terms. For scholarly research, these terms may not be the same as that used in conversation.  For example "split personality" (colloquial term) was called "Multiple personality disorder" (MPD) in the past and currently is called "Dissociative Identity  Disorder" (DID).

You may need to try a variety of terms, use a thesaurus, look in your text book, ask your teacher or supervisor if your terms are not working.

2.  Understand how to conduct a database search

Look at boolean searching to understand how to combine your terms using AND or OR, and keep terms together through the use of inverted commas.

3.  Google scholar vs. other search engines

You can use google scholar in your initial investigations, HOWEVER you may be frustrated when the articles are not available in the school or NLB databases.  A better place to start would be in the JStor or in Project Muse Databases where you can be assured that the full-text articles are available to you.

4.  Don't forget the library!

We have a wide range of books which may cover your topic.  We have also purchased some recent eBooks on specific EE Topics.  Check in the catalog.  For Literature we have a wide range of Cambridge Collections eBooks with either authors or literary topics. 

5.  Find out who the experts are

Every field will have people who are recognised as being experts.  Their opinion counts and their research will have to be cited.  In some fields there are two or more opposing views.  Make sure you are aware of t he viewpoints and their proponents. 

6.  Don't waste time

Read the titles and eliminate articles that are either dated or don't appear relevant.  Click on the interesting titles and read the abstract. Don't read the full text unless you're sure it's what you're looking for.  Read the conclusion of full-text articles before reading the rest of the article.

7.  Use bibliographies

If you've found a good article - check out the bibliography for other related or relevant articles.  If the author is an expert in the field, they will know what the best resources are and have them listed in their references. 

8. Don't forget other resources

Have you thought of looking at associations, universities etc.  For example the Jane Austen Society, The Shakespeare Society etc.


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