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U ST 105: Carver Academy Seminar: Freshmen

Reading and Understanding Scholarly Writing

Let's dissect an article together! 

Hawley, T. S., Crowe, A. R., & Mooney, E. (2016). Visualizing social justice: Using controversial images in social studies classrooms. Clearing House, 89(3), 85-90. doi:10.1080/00098655.2016.1181046

Abstract: In this article, we promote the use of controversial images to enhance the discussion of social justice issues in schools. Controversial images provide rich opportunities for students to question what is occurring currently in society as well as what has occurred in the past. We provide an example set of activities to be used in teacher education that can help future teachers explore engaging methods for teaching with controversial images, discuss tensions involved with the use of controversial images, and to develop connections between using controversial images and teaching for social justice. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] 6 pages

Dissecting Scholarly Articles

Below are elements typically found within scholarly journal articles. While not every article will contain every single element, most will have many of the pieces explained below.

Journal Information
  • Things like journal title, volume, issue, and page numbers, and year of publication. 
  • Why is this important?
    • Journal reputation can help you identify whether it is a source you can trust.
    • Volume, issue and page numbers can help you find the resource again
    • Year of publication lets you know about how current the information may be (this may be more or less important depending on your topic)
Title
  • Gives you a very brief idea of what the resource is about
  • Also helps you complete your citation so you can find the resource again
Authors
  • Who wrote the resource
  • Helpful for citations
Author Affiliations
  • Where the authors work or study, perhaps what field or discipline their degrees are in
  • Help you better understand author expertise or qualifications 
  • Can help you learn more about the authors, particularly helpful if you want to find more of their publications and want to be sure you have the right "Alicia Crowe" or "Evan Mooney"
Abstract
  • Formal summary of the article
  • Should include their thesis (or big "so what") from the article, the big take-away or goals, as well as brief bits of what they did that led them to their conclusions
Keywords
  • Sometimes authors or articles will include keywords or supplied vocabulary, drawing out the most important themes and listing them with the abstract
Introduction
  • Formally introduces the article
  • May contain content similar to the abstract
Literature Review
  • Outlines past research on the topic
  • Brings together lots of other resources (journal articles, books, etc.) to share what has already been said, usually tied together by theme rather than source after source after source
  • At the end of the lit review, the authors may also note gaps in the literature, usually stating that this reinforces the need for their research, which you'll read about in upcoming sections of the article
Methods
  • Describe what the researchers are looking at or digging into
  • Depending on the type of research this may mean what they used to measure something or what interventions they used; it may mean describing an experiment or it could be trying a new approach to a lesson plan. It all depends on the article and the topic
Results
  • Describe what happened when the researchers or authors tried their new intervention or approach
  • Sometimes there may be charts and graphs showing impact of interventions, equations, etc.
Conclusions or Discussion
  • Where the authors bring together the big picture from their research 
  • Where they discuss implications of their findings - why is this important, new, relevant
  • Where they think about future research - usually articles will say future research or experiments are needed to either reinforce their findings or test out new interventions or examine more factors
References
  • List of resources used throughout the article
  • This can be helpful if you need to find more resources on this same topic - you can track back those listed to find more information

Want more help dissecting and understanding journal articles? 

Your Librarian

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Cara Stone (Educ. & Info. Literacy)
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