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INF 110: Introduction to Research Essentials

This guide expands on the topics you've explored in INF 110: Introduction to Research Essentials.

Getting Started

It's time to talk about evaluating those sources. Being able to locate something you're interested in reading is a good start, but you always want to make sure the article or video in question is a good quality source.

Unfortunately, this is one reason why having so much information freely available online can be problematic. While there are many pluses, it's also very easy for people to post and share poorly supported or outright incorrect information - sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. This is referred to as misinformation, a topic of ever increasing importance over the past few years. This module will provide you with strategies that will help you find high quality information no matter what type of sources you're looking at.

What is Peer Review?

You've now heard the term "peer reviewed" several times, so what exactly does it mean when something is peer reviewed? This video from the NCSU Libraries quickly and concisely discusses how articles get peer reviewed, and the role of peer review in scholarly research and publication.

How can I tell if a journal is peer-reviewed?

Work through the tutorial below and you can also explore the Finding Peer Reviewed Sources Research Guide for more information.

Tips for Reading Academic Sources

Starting with your first semester here at MCPHS, it is very likely you will be asked to use academic journal articles as sources for your class assignments. While this course teaches you how to find those articles and how to begin evaluating their quality and usefulness, reading and understanding the articles you find is a skill of its own. Here are some tips:

  • Read the abstract first. An abstract is usually found in the database record or at the top of the article's full text. It summarizes the content of the article in a few hundred words, which allows you to decide if the article is going to be relevant to your needs before you commit to reading 10+ pages!
  • If you decide to read the full text, start with the Introduction. As the name implies, this will introduce you to the authors' reasons behind writing the article and give an overview of the topic and why the research is necessary.
  • After the Introduction, skip ahead to the Discussion section and the Conclusion. The Discussion section will explain the results of the study in plainer language than the actual Results section, which may contain a lot of statistics and very technical analysis. The Conclusion will provide an overview of what was accomplished or discovered in the study, and the authors may mention any limitations or even mention ideas for future research based on their findings.
  • Then, read the whole article, in order. Even if you do not understand everything in the Methods or Results section, having read the previously mentioned sections should give you a good idea of what's been done and what the findings were.
  • It may be necessary to read the article several times. Don't feel bad if that's the case! Academic journal articles are intended for people who already have background knowledge on the subject, so unless the one you're reading is on a subject you are already very familiar with on an academic level, reading these articles can be a challenge. Like any skill, reading academic articles gets easier with practice, so putting in the effort is worth your while.

Tutorials: Evaluating Sources

Online Verification Skills: Video Series

We recommend watching all of these short videos that contain useful hints on evaluating websites and information you find online.

Demonstration of Evaluation

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