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Physics

This Research Guide provides information about physics resources found in the CCCC libraries and online.

Scholarly Sources

orange journal iconWhat's in them?

The results of a study, experiment, or any other kind of disciplined scholarly research.


orange author iconWho writes them?

Scholars: faculty, researchers, laboratory staff, and graduate students.

Helpful hint! Look for a University Affiliation in the author's bio in an article.  If they work at a university or college, they're probably a scholarly author!


yellow icon with peopleWho reads them?

Other researchers in the field, including students just learning about research and professors working on their own areas of study within the field.


green box with white checkmarkWhen should you use them?

  • When your instructor has required scholarly sources
  • When you need evidence to back up an argument
  • When you want to be sure the information you're using is valid 

green box with white targetWhat do they look like?

  • length: usually more than 5 pages
  • citations: use appropriate citations and include a works cited list 
  • vocabulary: use technical or discipline-specific language (often called jargon)
  • images: include very few images, mostly charts, tables, and graphs rather than photos
  • journal: title is specific and subject related, pages are not glossy, none or very little advertising

Popular Sources

Magazine iconWhat's in them?
Entertaining or generally informative articles about a variety of subjects. Often these sources can take the forms of editorials or blogs that reflect an author's personal bias rather than focusing on the facts.

Author iconWho writes them?
People who may have conducted interviews or research to learn about the topic, but who are not scholarly experts in the field.

audience iconWho reads them?
 A general audience.  The writing should not require specialized expertise to read.

 


information iconWhen should you use them?
  • If you need basic facts or background information to get started learning about your topic
  • If you want to understand a very recent current event 
  • For fun!

online article iconWhat do they look like?
  • citations: very rarely include citations, but when they do, the formatting is not correct.
  • vocabulary: use every day language (some more specific popular magazines, like The Economist might use technical jargon, but will often explain or define it when they do).
  • images: lots of pictures
  • magazine: glossy pages and lots of ads

 

Watch out: Popular magazines and blogs cover a lot of subjects, and can be formatted in a variety of ways. The tips listed above will not be true 100% of the time. Critical thinking about audience and authorship are important when trying to identify popular articles!

C.R.A.P.

How to tell if something is C.R.A.P.

Currency: Scholarly information should be current. When evaluating an article, find the date of publication. In certain fields, anything older than five years is not considered current.

 

Relevance: Information you find should be relevant to your topic.
  • Does it apply directly to your topic?  
  • Does the whole article apply, or only small parts?
  • How detailed is the information?

 

Reliability: Is the information reliable? Can you count on it being true? Check for...
  • References and citations
  • Peer-review status
  • Is it consistent with the other information you've found?  If not, does it acknowledge this discrepancy and explain it?
  • Is there any potential for bias from the author?

 

Authority: Make sure you can identify the author of the article and they have the authority to write on the subject. Anyone can share their opinion online--but you're looking for experts! So, identify...
  • How many authors?
  • What are their credentials (degrees, jobs at universities)?
  • Have they written other articles or books on related subjects?
  • Is their any potential for bias?

 

Purpose: Why was the article written? Can you tell? Knowing what an author hoped to do or gain by writing and publishing an article tells you a lot about how useful it is in an academic setting. Ask yourself...
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the article meant to inform, entertain, persuade, sell, or add to an already existing scholarly conversation?
  • Does the article share the results of a study, experiment, or analysis?