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Academic research and studies: How they work and why journalists should care

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❶A note about "peer review. It should never be cited in an academic paper.

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Studies often have the following structure: In fact, the vocabulary and analytical frameworks themselves can become useful for framing stories. Imagine you are reporting on women in the workplace. The literature review tells the reader what has been learned so far and where questions remain.

In the methods and results sections, the researchers describe what data they used, how they analyzed it, and the results. Ultimately, the researchers are trying to prove not just that the two things are correlated — that they move in parallel — but that there is causation — one thing causes the other. There may be no correlation between the two things or the relationship may be explained by some other factors, such as geography or lack of medical care.

The scholar has to sort this all out. This system ensures that the study is of the highest possible quality, and is the basis on which all good research rests.

What kinds of studies are there? While there are an infinite number of questions in the world that can be studied, most research falls into a number of basic types. Below are a few of the categories and loose genres that you should be familiar with:. Social scientists tend to analyze existing datasets, many of them from governmental sources — census data, health information, transportation data and more. This information can be current as well as historical.

Long-term datasets can be useful for what are known as longitudinal studies. For example, Social Security data is gathered over long periods, and so can provide insight into the how U. Select groups can also be tracked for years, and thus allow one to understand the relationship between pre-school education and well-being later in life. But they are also used in fields such as psychology and human cognition: For example, medical researchers might want to understand how having Google at our fingertips might affect our memory.

The scholars devise and run an experiment — in this case, a memory test of a group of study subjects — and then analyze the results. Social scientists are also running more controlled trials in the field: For example, how hearing the Spanish language in America affects perceptions and political attitudes.

These are, in essence, studies of studies. These can be helpful when there is a lot of research on a particular topic — for example, how studying at a diverse college might affect civic engagement later in life. While not technically studies, surveys frequently contain valuable information for journalists. Governmental and nonprofit research organizations often produce reports that synthesize a wide variety of data and look at particular questions — for example, the importance of infrastructure investment , the disparities faced by minorities in California , or trends in college spending.

Examples include a rethinking of economic development in poor countries or the case for banning subprime mortgages. The reading of scholarly studies can be important to get context — to know what smart people have thought about a particular issue.

But they can also be cited and summarized in your story or blog. You might strongly consider sending the author of a study an email inquiry or calling him or her to be sure you correctly understand the findings of the study.

No matter what, be sure to give the scholar full credit by mentioning the institutions the study came from and the journal in which it was published. And link to the study so your audience can go further into the question.

It will improve the depth of your journalism and demonstrate transparency and respect for your audience. You might first think about how to localize a study. Here are 10 examples of such study-based ideas. Furthermore, the following are examples of high-level stories that use research in a variety of different ways. An initial online article such as this one at NPR includes reaction quotes and reporting on the outrage stirred up.

But a reporter could also, in theory, quickly search the PubMed database and locate this peer-reviewed study giving the facts behind the issue. This Pacific Standard blog post — written shortly after the story broke — performed that research. The greatest danger of using studies in journalism is through oversimplifying the findings or misinterpreting them altogether. Researchers are often very helpful to media members, as they have every interest in seeing their work presented accurately to the public.

Keep in mind that scholars consider research to be a process that is constantly unfolding. The search is managed by scientists and librarians as a collaborative initiative between Bioline Toronto and and the Reference Center on Environmental Information. It is a great tool for students enrolled in both science and environmental management classes. Search through SpringerLink for electronic journals, protocols, and books in just about every subject possible. You can also browse publications by collection and content type.

When you need top-quality journal writings for free, the Directory of Open Access Journals is a great place to check out. Browse by category, search by keyword, and even add new sites to the listings. Register with PerkinElmer to check out the Chem BioFinder and look up information about chemicals, including their properties and reactions.

Biology Browser is a great resource for finding research, resources, and information in the field of biology. Use SciCentral as your gateway to the best sources in science. This site has a literature search, journals, databases, and other great tools for finding what you need. Strategian is a great place to find quality information in all fields of science.

Featured resources include free full-text books, patents, and reports, as well as full-text journal and magazine articles, plus a special collection of Vintage Biology with important articles and books in biology.

In this government science portal, you can search more than 50 databases and 2, selected websites from 12 federal agencies. This is an incredible resource for millions of pages of U. This organization for nuclear research serves up a great search and directory for experiments, archives, articles, books, presentations, and so much more within their documents.

Keep your results limited to only the best math and technology resources by using these search engines. Check out the MathGuide subject gateway to find online information sources in mathematics. The catalog offers not just a search, but a database of high quality Internet resources in math.

Nearly 35, items were added in alone. There are more than preferred journals, plus selected articles from 1, more and 11, statistics books to draw from in this search.

This database was made for scientists and engineers by the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Find more than 3 million references to journal articles, conference papers, and technical reports in computer science with this bibliography collection. Still in experimental demonstration, Citebase Search is a resource for searching abstracts in math, technology, and more.

Researchers working in the fields of psychology, anthropology, and related subjects will find great results using these search engines. In this research network, you can find a wide variety of social science research from a number of specialized networks including cognitive science, leadership, management, and social insurance. The Thomson Reuters Social Sciences Citation Index is a paid tool, but well worth its cost for the wealth of relevant articles, search tools, and thorough resources available.

Use this site from the University of Amsterdam to browse sociological subjects including activism, culture, peace, and racism. The SocioWeb offers links to articles, essays, journals, blogs, and even a marketplace. Search or browse the Encyclopedia of Psychology to find basic information, and even translations for information about psychology careers, organizations, publications, people, and history. Through this database, you can get access to anthropology reviews, look up publishers, and find resources available for review.

This anthropological online search includes both general search of 4, periodicals held in The British Museum Anthropology Library as well as Royal Anthropological Institute films.

Political Information is a search engine for politics, policy, and political news with more than 5, carefully selected websites for political information. Find awesome resources for history through these search engines that index original documents, sources, and archives. Use the Internet Modern History Sourcebook to find thousands of sources in modern history.

Browse and search to find full texts, multimedia, and more. Use the history guide from the Library of Anglo-American Culture and History for a subject catalog of recommended websites for historians, with about 11, to choose from. History Buff offers an online newspaper archive, reference library, and even a historical panoramas section in their free primary source material collection.

The database has multimedia, an interactive timeline, active learning, and resources for teachers. The Internet Ancient History Sourcebook is a great place to study human origins, with full text and search on topics including Mesopotamia, Rome, the Hellenistic world, Late Antiquity, and Christian origins. History and Politics Out Loud offers a searchable archive of important recordings through history, particularly politically significant audio materials.

In this tool for collaborative education and research, students can learn history by researching, writing, and publishing, creating a collection of historical articles in U. Through American History Online, you can find and use primary sources from historical digital collections. Search the Business Publications Search Engine for access to business and trade publications in a tool that offers not just excellent browsing, but a focused search as well.

Maintained by the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, this library offers historians excellent content for learning about economics, business, and more. Visit EconLit to access more than years of economics literature from around the world in an easily searchable format.

Find journal articles, books, book reviews, articles, working papers, and dissertations, as well as historic journal articles from to Find research in economics and related sciences through the RePEc, a volunteer-maintained bibliographic database of working papers, articles, books, and even software components with more than 1.

Perfect for researching companies, Corporate Information offers an easy way to find corporate financial records. Economists will enjoy this excellent site for finding economics resources, including jobs, courses, and even conferences. The SEC requires certain disclosures that can be helpful to investors, and you can find them all here in this helpful, next-generation system for searching electronic investment documents.

National Library of Medicine, PubMed is a great place to find full-text medical journal articles, with more than 19 million available. Visit this database to find more than 6, records relating to human health in the circumpolar region. National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus offers a powerful search tool and even a dictionary for finding trusted, carefully chosen health information.

Search Artcyclopedia to find everything there is to know about fine art, with , links, 9, artists listed, and 2, art sites indexed. Check out the Literary Encyclopedia to get access to reference materials in literature, history, and culture. View all FAQ videos. View all blog posts. General Need to get started with a more broad search? These academic search engines are great resources. Digital Library of the Commons Repository: Meta Search Want the best of everything?

Databases and Archives Resources like the Library of Congress have considerable archives and documents available, and many of them have taken their collections online. Smithsonian Institution Research Information System: State Legislative Websites Directory: Online Journals Search Engine: Directory of Open Access Journals: Science With a focus on science, these academic search engines return all-science, all the time.

Analytical Sciences Digital Library: This semantic search engine allows users to search with numbers and formulas instead of text.

Current Index to Statistics: The Collection of Computer Science Bibliographies: Social Science Researchers working in the fields of psychology, anthropology, and related subjects will find great results using these search engines. Behavioral Brain Science Archive: Check out this searchable archive to find extensive psychology and brain science articles. Social Science Research Network: Social Sciences Citation Index: With this custom Google search engine, you can find open access articles about archaeology.

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Academic Search Complete offers an enormous collection of full-text journals, providing users access to critical information from many sources unique to this database. In addition, it includes peer-reviewed full text for STEM research, as well as for the social sciences and humanities.

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Another reason why Wikipedia should not be cited in an academic research paper is that it aims to be like an encyclopedia–a source of reference information, not scholarly research or primary or secondary sources. Ordinary search engines are not very useful for finding academic research studies, scholarly journal articles, or other sources. Academic search engines like are a far better alternative, and they abound online.

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Find out what academic sources are and what to look for if you're required to use them for research papers and essays. Complete the lesson, and take a . research published in scholarly/academic journals. Secondary sources are those that describe or analyze primary sources, including: reference materials – dictionaries, encyclopedias, textbooks, and; books and articles that interpret, review, or sythesize original research/fieldwork. Tertiary sources are those used to organize and locate .