Are you writing a final paper this week? Do you have questions about grammar and punctuation? Is the Writing Center closed? The University Libraries subscribes to the online version of both the 15th and 16th editions of the Chicago Manual of Style, an often used source for questions such as…
- Should I use which or that in my sentence?
- How do I punctuate a sentence with a URL in it?
- When should I use who versus whom?
- When should I use a semi-colon (my all-time favorite punctuation mark—it marks a pause, but one that has shades of hesitancy with a dose of elitism)
There is a search box in the upper right hand corner of the screen where you can search for your specific question of interest. Using fewer search terms works better.
The Manual can also be enjoyed by grammar-junkies who find it fascinating to read about the use of more esoteric aspects of the written word such as when nouns followed by gerunds may take the possessive form or when it might be appropriate to intensify an uncomparable adjective. Or perhaps one of your colleagues has a particular grammar or punctuation proclivity that you would like to address such as is it summer or Summer?
Also fun is to peruse the Q&A section of the website where the editors of the Style Manual provide witty and informative responses to even the most trivial questions of grammar and style.
For more information about this resource or another resource provided by the University Libraries, contact the Ekstrom Library Reference and Information Literacy Department at 852-6747 or use the reference question form.
Do you use Google Translate? The Oxford Language Dictionaries Online, available from the University Libraries Databases A-Z list offers some advantages over Google Translate, especially for beginning language learners.
- The Oxford dictionaries are authoritative. No “voting” on whether the translation is good or not. They are compiled by language experts.
- Phrases! It’s fine to know the meaning of a single word. Google translate works decently for that. When you’re learning a language though, it is super helpful to know the phrases that often accompany a particular word, especially when they color the meaning of that word or when the word is not used literally. For example, Google will tell you that “gesicht” in German means “face.” The Oxford Language Dictionary will tell you that “solche Unhöflichkeit steht dir nicht zu Gesicht[e]” or “such impoliteness ill becomes you.” The translation of that phrase in Google: “Such rudeness does not become you to face.”
- Need to cite the word you translated? Oxford Language Dictionaries Online help you do that with the click of a button!
- The dictionaries contain important grammatical information for each language.
- Lists of useful phrases to use when you’re traveling!
The dictionaries also briefly summarize the history and current state of the language. U of L Libraries subscribes to Chinese, German, French, Italian, Russian, and Spanish dictionaries through this service.
Have questions about this resource or any other library resource? Call 852-6747 or chat with us at Ask-a-Librarian.
Conducting a comprehensive literature review for a dissertation, thesis, or large-scale research project can be an arduous and overwhelming task. At the library, we receive a number of common questions about this process:
What databases should I search? Have I located all the influential studies relevant to my topic? What about the less-influential studies? Is it possible I’m missing an obscure article from an unknown journal that will completely alter the course of my research?
In other words, have I found everything?
While literature searches inevitably involve a certain amount of, well, uncertainty, we’ve put together a new research guide to help you strategize, organize, and, perhaps most importantly, stay in the good graces of a perpetually grumpy dissertation director.
Our guide suggests key library resources (as well as Google Scholar, which can be especially useful for interdisciplinary research), offers helpful search tips (do you know how to tell who has been citing your favorite article?), and lists some options for managing the search process (EndNote! EndNote! EndNote!). All of this stuff can make your life easier and your research more enjoyable and productive. Seriously.
But what about that lingering question: have you found absolutely everything of relevance? Given that new potential sources are being published by the minute (or faster) in a rapidly expanding information universe, it’s always possible to miss something. However, you can alleviate your anxiety by considering the following questions:
- Have I searched all the major databases relevant to my area of interest?
- Am I seeing the same authors/sources over and over again?
- Have I checked through the bibliographies/references of the sources I’ve found?
- Am I keeping track of new publications through database/journal alerts and regular communication with other researchers?
- Have I talked to a librarian?
It might seem a little self-serving (sorry!), but that last questions is especially important. Librarians at UofL are more than happy to meet with researchers in any discipline to discuss resources and strategies. It’s not just our job—we love research! You can request an appointment with a librarian on at Ask a Librarian. Good luck with the search!
Reading scholarly articles is not the easiest thing to do at times. The figure above offers tips on how to read these works for clarity. I’ll discuss a few of those tips below.
Read the Abstract
One thing that can get in the way of reading scholarly works is the technical, specialized language such as, “convergence culture” or “epistemological framework” (Williams, 2008; Yawson, 2012). As a reader without much background knowledge on these terms, it is easy to get lost in the wording. Second, scholarly articles are also quite lengthy. We’re talking 15, 20, 30 plus pages at the minimum. Certainly, the thought of having to read such laborious literature to complete a 5 to 10 page paper would lead many of us toward the Most-Convenient-Article-With Fewer-Pages-Exit.
Tip: Reading the abstract is a quick way to find out the main purpose of the article. This can be a big time-saver!
Check the References List
Commonly, at the end of an article is a list. These lists are also known as, Notes, Works Cited, References, or Bibliographies. As an undergraduate, I regularly did away with these pages, thinking, “Well, this is one or two fewer pages I need to print.” Seriously, what did I really need with them? Overtime, I learned the references were useful in directing me to related sources.
Tip: References are also a great way to get ideas on structuring your written topic. Say you are considering writing a paper on Galileo. There are many stories you could explore from a biographical sketch of his life to Galileo’s Inquisition to Galileo’s role in the Scientific Revolution. Taking note of what others have written on the topic can help you decide to focus on something similar or chart a new course.
Use Section Headings
Finally, there are the journal names: International Journal of Technology and Design Education or Social Behavior and Composition or Journal of General Internal Medicine. These are not likely to be titles many of us encounter daily. Therefore, the lack of familiarity with the type of subjects covered in these journals can make it challenging to recognize if the article is worth the time commitment.
Tip: When you find an article scan through the section headings; these will be in bold font. The headings reveal the major subjects of emphasis addressed by the author. They also provide insight about topics covered in each journal. What you can do from here is begin narrowing selections to those journals that have more information on the topic.
Essentially, these tips can help you avoid overlooking scholarly articles that can enhance your writing in that research paper. Certainly, there is no substitute for reading the article in full. But, when reading scholarly articles that make you want to head toward the nearest exit–Wait!
Try some of the tips mentioned to help you identify Relevant sources in a timely manner!References: Yawson, R. M. (2012). An epistemological framework for nanoscience and nanotechnology literacy. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 1-14. Williams, B. (2008). “What south park character are you?”: Popular culture, literacy, and online performances of identity. Computers and Composition, 25(1), 24-39.
Have you ever had to find a journal and when you did, later discovered it was a magazine? Or, maybe the reverse happened. Well, even when you have one of them in hand determining whether a source is a magazine, a scholarly journal, or even a trade journal can be tricky. Keep in mind, each is written with specific readers in mind, from the general public to educators like your professors who use scholarly journals for their research. And, some fall into more than one category.
As you progress in your studies more class assignments may require you to use sources that are scholarly. However, that does not mean magazines have no value in the landscape of higher education; as they are useful for finding current news information. Below is a table that offers guidance on some of the differences between each.
- Magazines, journals and newspapers are all referred to as periodicals or serials.
- Periodical = Serial = a publication that comes out regularly (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) that uses a numbering system that is intended to continue indefinitely
While there are number of ways to access these sources in the UofL Libraries, you may want to start your search on Journal Finder. If you need more help call the Ekstrom Reference Desk at (502) 852-6747.
Professors often steer students away from sources like, Google and Wikipedia, because of the likelihood in finding unreliable information. Instead, they want you to use things called, “peer reviewed” sources. But, why?
Well, peer reviewed sources are works produced by people just like your professors–they are educators and scholars. And, they are known by other names like, scholarly, refereed, and academic journals. So, what is the benefit of using peer reviewed sources when you can quickly put something together from a Google search?
Here are some ways using peer-reviewed sources can pay off in your academic life:
1. Build Your Reputation. Peer reviewed sources carry with them the reputation of being credible (legit) and reliable. How much more will your academic performance be considered as such when you utilize peer reviewed sources for research papers or presentations? It also demonstrates to your professors that you’ve taken the time to be critical about the types of sources utilized.
2. Graduate Studies Preparation. Much of the work done by graduate students requires finding evidenced-based research, empirical studies, and conducting literature reviews. The bulk of these types of sources are found in peer reviewed sources—Ka-ching!
3. Google Scholar-It! Yes, you can find peer-reviewed sources in the Libraries databases (e.g., JSTOR, Academic Search Premier). But, you don’t have to do away with Google as a student altogether. Try Google Scholar. Here you can find books and peer reviewed articles; many of them, are linked directly from the library’s databases. This can be a real time saver.
4. Make Decisions with Confidence. Peer reviewed sources are packed full of things like, charts and graphs. Then, there are References lists that can direct you to other sources on the topic. Even more, is the technical terminology that can help you as beginner researcher learn the lingo of the discipline. This level of comprehensiveness gives you confidence in being certain that the source is useful for what you need.
For more information about peer reviewed sources visit our Magazine or Journal? page.
Have you ever been walking along and suddenly think of something you need to add to your research paper, but by the time you get to your computer you can’t remember what it was? It happens to all of us. I get some of my best thoughts when I’m walking my dog and then poof! it’s gone.
If you’re carrying a smartphone you can always do a quick voice recording, but there’s new technology out there that can take it a step further. One program is Dragon Naturally Speaking, a speech recognition program that produces a text document for you. Then you can search your thoughts and edit them into your paper!
Even if you don’t have the cash to buy fancy programs like this you can still use the power of speech to jump start your research project. Just sit down with some kind of recording device and start talking. It’s a good way to find out what you know about the topic and what you still need to know without the stress of facing that blank computer screen.