What is scholarly literature?
Typically when you hear people use the phrase "scholarly literature" they are talking about scholarly journal articles. The problem with this idea is that scholarly literature is not published strictly in journal articles. In fact, there is considerable scholarly literature published in book format. Consequently, many consider the use of the phrase "scholarly literature" to include publications in all formats.
For this lesson we will be focusing on discovering scholarly journal articles. Scholarly journal articles differ from other forms of literature in that they required some type of scholarly review process. Scholarly articles also have a very distinct disciplinary format all of which include a review of literature.
How to Read a Scholarly Article
By now you have probably read many scholarly articles. However, this three page summary by Frederique Laubepin will be worth your time and effort to read. It is concise with some excellent insight.
How to Read (and Understand) a Social Science Journal Article (only 3 pages). By Frederique Laubepin Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, 2013.
Once you finish this lesson you will:
What are these search engines searching?
Very simply put, these two engines are created by computer programs that send out robots that scrape information from websites that allow them to collect information. The robots bring the information back to Google and dump this information into a central repository.
Google Scholar differs from Google, because the robots only scrape and report information from “scholarly sites” such as academic institutions, scholarly associations, and publishers. Thus, creating a different and smaller pool of information.
Let’s go ahead and do a quick search in Google and see how this plays out.
Video: Moving from Google to Google Scholar. This video simply demonstrates how Google moves you seamlessly into a smaller pool of information called Google Scholar.
Why is it important for you to understand how Google and Google Scholar are created?
Video: Connecting Google Scholar to your Library Account: A Tangent. You may notice when you click on a title in your results list that the site may ask you to pay to access this information. As a member of Penn State, you should never pay for a resource using Google Scholar. The following video shows you how to select and save your settings in your browser.
Go ahead and open up Google Scholar and follow along.
What is a library database?
The Library uses the term ‘database’ to describe a searchable online resource. Usually, the Library pays for access, however, some databases are free to use.
Why would you want to search a library database?
THE BIG SEVEN
It is impossible to list all of the potentially relevant library databases for the interdisciplinary topics covered in criminology and criminal justice. However, you should be aware of these five databases as you work through your program. The following set of videos will discuss some searching strategies for finding scholarly articles.
Video: Using library databases to find scholarly literature. This video will demonstrate how to find scholarly articles in the library database Sociological Abstracts by showing you how to:
Using a library database: Using Sociological Abstracts for Finding Scholarly Resources Video Transcript (Links to an external site.)
Video: Using the thesaurus feature in a library database to refine your search. This video will demonstrate how to use a thesauri in a library database to refine your search by showing you how to:
Library Database Thesaurus: Using the Thesaurus Feature in a Library Database Video Transcript (Links to an external site.)
Video: Using the fields in Criminal Justice Abstracts to refine your search. This video will demonstrate how to use a thesauri in a library database to refine your search by showing you how to:
Library Database Thesaurus: Using a library database: Criminal Justice Abstracts Video Transcript (Links to an external site.)
Look at the References!
If you discover a relevant scholarly article on topic it is essential to take a look at the references. Often this will lead you to other important articles that can potentially be of equal or more importance that then the article in-hand.
Why is that? Scholarly articles have a built in process called the literature review. Literature reviews provide you with a summary of research on the topic and the context for a particular author(s) own research.
Find who Cites our Author(s) Article
Below is an example of a citation map from the Social Science Citation Index of demographers Jennifer Van Hook and Jennifer Glick's 2007 article "Immigration and living arrangements: Moving beyond economic need versus acculturation" in the journal Demography 44(2): 225-249. It visually shows you the publications that were cited in the article as well as 43 other publication that cited them.
So how do we find this future literature?
Most database have some type of limited "cited by" feature. However, the most important database that scholars use for this type of search are Web of Science and its suite of citation indexes.
It is impossible to list all of the potentially relevant databases for many of the interdisciplinary topics covered in criminology and criminal justice. Below are two suggestions:
Use the Library Subject Guides
A simple way is to explore other relevant library subject guides that have been created by disciplinary experts.
Video: Using a mult-subject library databases to identify library subject databases. This video will use a technique using the multi-disciplinary subject indexes Academic Search Complete and Proquest Multiple Databases to identify other relevant subject indexes not listed in the CJPA 808 research guide.
Both of these publishers provide access to a suite of over 80 disciplinary subject indexes as well as a number of collection databases listed in the University Libraries databases.
Library Search Multi-Subject Database Video Transcript (Links to an external site.)
Below is a list of SOME of the key scholarly journals in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Sometimes it helps to simply browse an appropriate titles to generate some ideas about a topic.
Corrections & Courts