by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/28/15.
Students sometimes want to know how to score better, especially regarding citations for the references they are finding. Let me give you some guidelines that are typical of a graduate school level of research.
Use citations in your papers and postings.
When a professor asks you to research something, make sure you say in your paper or your posting where you found this information. This means using a citation. You may even want to practice using APA style to cite your quotes and references for forum postings (where APA is not required). This can be good practice for developing APA style, and doing so will allow other students to find your resources too.
Use scholarly resources.
When researching a topic, the student will discover an mind-numbing array of resources: from books, to articles, to blogs to websites. But, often times some comments are just Internet or blog musings by people who are not experts in the field you are investigating. Thus quoting non-experts may proliferate inaccurate knowledge. Thus, try to use the best resources you can find. Here is a list of sources, from those which are customarily higher in scholarly reliability to those that are customarily lower:
High Scholarly Reliability (usually)
++ Journal articles
+ Published books
+ Published articles (some newspapers, magazines and online e-zines.)
– – Web-sites (except as noted below)
– – – Blogs (except when a blog of a scholar)
– – – – Graffiti 😉
Low Scholarly Reliability (usually)
Still, there are always exceptions to the rule. For example, many websites are certainly scholarly, such as Lifeway Research, Barna Group, American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) and those sponsored by university and/or governmental agencies.
Juried Sources Are Preferred
A little checking on their site will help you discover if they are “juried.” This means there is a “jury” or “editorial board/committee” that has overseen this publication and that the research is reliable and valid.
A Recognized Scholar
Many scholars have published “juried” articles and books, and hence their non-juried blog posts can be considered “juried.” For instance, my good friend Dr. Ed Stetzer has published many books and articles. Thus, his blog would be considered scholarly, even though it is not always juried.
I share these guidelines because I know you will want to make the most of your limited research time. Better information makes for better learning … and better effects for Christ’s Kingdom 🙂