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Tutt Library Research Guides


PS Politics of Africa: Searching

Create A Keyword List

Search effectively with the right keywords
   in catalogs, databases, and the Internet.

- Compile a list of keywords for each concept of topic.

  • Try the Search Generator (Northwest Missouri State University) to help you create a keyword search.

    - Use specific terms when searching databases versus catalogs.

    - Add additional terms from your search results to your list.

    - Search Google Books for keywords in the title, table of contents, subject headings, and text of books.

      You may need to do multiple searches (RE -search) in various databases.

      Scholarly v. Popular

      Video produced by Wayne State University Libraries.


      The Vodka Ad Test

      Or a Quick Guide to Evaluating Periodical Articles

      Flip your magazine or journal over. What kind of ad is on the back cover? If there is a vodka ad, car ad, or cigarette ad, this may not be considered a scholarly source. But let’s go on to more definitive measures…

      Scholarly Articles have:

      • Bibliography, footnotes, or endnotes. This provides evidence of the research that was conducted to produce the article.
      • Written by expert(s) in the field. Usually there is information that describes the author’s credentials and current position.
      • Published by Associations, Research Institutes, University Presses.
      • “Peer reviewed.” Refers to the policy of experts in the field examining journal articles before acceptance for publication.
      • Written in the jargon of the field for scholarly readers (professors, researchers or students.)
      • Illustrations that support the text, such as tables of statistics, graphs, maps, or photographs

      Popular Magazines on the other hand:

      • No footnotes or references.
      • Written by journalists who are usually not experts in the field.
      • Easy to read. Intended for lay audience. Informative and entertaining.
      • Short articles.
      • Many advertisements throughout the magazine.
      • Glossy, slick. Illustrated with graphics and photos.
      • Unsigned articles.

      These criteria apply to all periodicals (online or print).

      What about other materials?

      Like critreia for evaluating periodicals, these are important criteria for internet pages and databases too.

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