PO 200 Research Methods

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RefWorks 


Steps to determine the empirical basis for "common wisdom" and generally accepted ideas

Research your topic in Discovery -- identify studies, literature reviews, historical perspectives

Identify the research history--study and compare bibliographies; look for frequently cited sources; follow citations back in time

Tip: Backtracking through citations can get messy.  It can be easier to start closer to the beginning.  To do so, change the search results sorting from "Relevance" to "Date Oldest".  You can also use what you know about the topic to limit the publication date search (ex. Video games didn't exist before TVs, so you can rule out results before the 1950s.) Once you have found an article on the right topic and relatively "old", then start checking the bibliography to see if it mentions anything further back or perhaps specific studies or reports.

After you have located what you believe to be a relevant source, use SCOPUS to track who was cited within that article and who else cited it and you can work backward or forward using the citations given in SCOPUS. This will help you build the chain of research.

SCOPUS is an abstract and citation database of research literature in the fields of Medicine, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences and Life Sciences. It compiles citation information for specific articles (how many times has it been cited and by who), by authors (what have they written and how many times have each of their articles been cited), etc. Dates of Coverage: indexes journals back to 1966; includes citation references back to 1999. 

Identify how the results of the studies were mainstreamed into the popular press and to the general public through government, medical or news reports, articles in popular magazines like Newsweek or Scientific American or in national newspapers such as the  New York Times, etc.  Books are also avenues for disseminating information to the public.

Tip: Use on major newspaper like the New York Times. When you get what seems to be an on target results list, pay close attention to the bar graph on the right hand side.  It will show you the number of instances that topic was mentioned chronologically.  If you click on any of the highest bars, you will be linked into those articles and you will receive a new bar graph with a more granular look at how many times the subject was mentioned.  You can easily recognize the year that the topic started to pick up in popularity and sometimes down to the month.

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