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Nature & Structure of Language (ENGL 2870): Getting Started

Forming Your Search Strategy

MLA Style - Humanities

MLA (Modern Language Association) Style is primarily used for the humanities - English, philosophy, music, religion - but can also be used in other subjects.

Recommended Databases

Scholarly Journals?

Q: What is a scholarly journal?

A: These are articles written by people considered to be experts in their fields.   They spend years conducting experiments, reviewing other literature on the topic, and writing their article.   It often goes through a very intense review process to make sure the information is objective and accurate.   It can often take a year or two for it to be published.


Q: What's the difference between a peer reviewed journal, academic journal and scholarly journal?

A: Nothing- all three are just different names for the same idea.


Q: How can I tell if an article is scholarly?

A: Here are some things to look for in order to determine if an article is scholarly:

  • Often start with an abstract, or summary, of the article.

  • Include footnotes or bibliographies.

  • Generally are longer than articles in popular or news magazines.

  • Are reviewed (refereed) by an editorial board and revised before being accepted for publication.

  • Include the language, or jargon, of the subject discipline.   It assumes some degree of subject knowledge by the reader.

  • Report original research or experimentation results.

  • Are authored by subject experts, researchers, or scholars in their fields.   Author credentials are frequently listed.

  • Are published by professional organizations, such as the American Medical Association   (Journal of the American Medical Association), or the National Council on Family Relations   (Journal of Marriage and the Family).


Q: How can I find these articles?

A: Many of the library databases allow you to limit your search results to journals that are scholarly. That does not mean that you will only get scholarly articles though. You want to review the articles that come back and make sure they meet the qualifications.

 

Q: What is the difference between a scholarly journal, a trade journal and a popular magazine?

A: A trade journal is typically from professional organizations in a specific field, but articles are not peer reviewed.  They are a great way to find out current issues and practices in a specific field.  Some professional organizations will have a scholarly journal and a trade journal.  Popular magazines are like Time, Newsweek, Vogue or Sports Illustrated.  These articles are written by journalists and are for the general public.  They are a good way to get an introduction to a topic.

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