What is "academic research"?
Academic research includes finding published articles, academic books, and other information written by experts on the topic in order to inform your understanding of an issue, provide background information, and support your argument for a paper or project.
What is a "database"?
A database is an online collection of information organized so users can easily access that information by searching in various ways. It is different from a search engine, like google, because a library database has information that has been tagged specifically to organize it into categories and subjects for simple access. For example, the library catalog is a database that organizes what the library has in its physical collection for easy retrieval. Different databases have different kinds of information. EBSCO's Religion and Philosophy Collection is a database that contains only academic journal articles, magazine articles, and newspaper articles about topics in religion and philosophy.
What is an "academic journal"?
An academic journal (also known as a scholarly journal, scientific journal, or peer-reviewed journal) is periodical publication containing articles written by experts in a specific field of study. For example, the Journal of Philosophy has peer-reviewed articles about the topic written by experts in philosophy.
What does "peer-reviewed" mean?
Peer-reviewed is a process of which experts (peers) in a field evaluate an article on their subject of expertise before it is published to make sure that the article is accurate and credible. This is a way to ensure the academic quality and truthfulness of scholarly articles.
What is a "peer-reviewed article" or a "peer-reviewed publication"?
A peer-reviewed article has been read, evaluated, and approved by other experts in the field for publication. If you use materials from peer-reviewed publications they have been evaluated by other scholars in the field and determined to be credible and accurate.
The question "how to do research" is complex. This step-by-step process is here to help you get started. If you need more help, please email me or set up a consultation appointment.
Create a research question (a question that cannot be answered with a yes or no and has no simple answer)
For example: "How does sugar influence hunger?"
Consider Your Information Need
What type of information will help satisfy your need?
For example: Do I need a primary source, like a published study? A literature review about prior studies about this topic? Background information?
Choose your Search Terms
Databases require a user to be specific about the information they want
You will need to choose search terms based on your research question. Pick out the central ideas in your research question to use as search terms.
Key terms to use as search terms in this example are "sugar" and "hunger" or "satiety."
Choose a Database to use
An appropriate database would a subject-specific one about health or medicine.
Evaluate the Sources
You need to make sure the information you found is relevant to your needs, accurate, and credible.
It will be helpful to think of these questions when evaluating a source:
Who is the author? Are they an expert?
Where was this published? Is this a reliable publication?
Is the study developed well? Does the study actually prove anything?
Is the information presented here accurate and/or truthful?
When was this published? Is this information up-to-date?
What is the purpose of this article? Is it to inform, persuade, or argue?
Incorporate the Source into Your Paper
Cite the Source