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Business 307c

Resources on Company and Marketing research to help with your Individual Assignment #2 along with other research assignments for this class and beyond.

How to Read Scholarly Sources

Reading scholarly journal articles is not like reading your favorite novel.  Scholars are writing for other scholars about their research. Their purpose is to present new findings or ideas to others who already know something about what they are writing about. It is okay to struggle with reading scholarly journal articles and to even not fully understand every point the article makes. Below is some advice on how to get the most out of a scholarly journal article. 

Reading Order

Unlike a novel, the best strategy for reading a scholarly article is not to start at the beginning and read to the end. Instead, it is better to jump around to build an understanding of the main arguments and then go back to fill in the details. 

Step 1: Read the abstract, conclusion, and introduction

  • Start with the abstract 
    • Summarizes the main points of the article
    • Introduces to the vocabulary used in the article. 
  • Jump to the conclusion
    • Most articles will have a separate heading marking the conclusions
    • Clearest summarization of the author's argument. 
  • Read the Introduction
    • The introduction provides details of why the author is writing this article and where they begin to make the arguments

Step 2: Skim for the overall structure

  • Next, you want to skim through the article to see how the author structures their content.
    • Does the writer preface each section with an overview?
    • Does the article move from example to analysis?
    • Where does the author discuss other people's findings? 
  • Once you know how the author structures their article, you will know what to focus in on when you read through the article in its entirety. 

Step 3: Read for Content

  •  Know your purpose. 
    • If you professor assigns the paper
      • Are you going to be quizzed on the article? - read for details. 
      • Will there be a class discussion? Read for the main argument
    • If you are reading an article for research:
      • What argument does this article support?
      • Do you need to quote particular arguments or facts in your paper? 
  • Take notes
    • Annotate with a specific key 
      • key ideas/major points
      • unfamiliar words
      • keywords and phrases
      • important information
      • connections to class materials or other articles. 
    • Break the text into sections and summarize the main points in your own words. 
  • Take breaks
    • These articles are HARD. If you can't stay focused, walk away for a few minutes. Or even better, plan ahead and only read part of the article a night.  Remember these are not stories, you won't lose anything if you stop and come back to the article later. 

BEAM Method

We have spent a lot of time talking about different types of sources and how to evaluate the quality of those sources. But a source is only as strong as how you use it in your paper. You can use a variety of types of sources to provide background information (in this case for your reader), exhibit, argument, or method. We will discuss each of these using the BEAM Method. 

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Background Sources- Provides an overview of a topic, core concepts or basic facts. 

  • Providing the reader basic information about your topic. THIS IS DIFFERENT THAN THE BACKGROUND INFORMATION YOU FOUND WITH CREDO!
  • Noncontroversial, well established information in the field
  • Can be common knowledge, and therefore does not necessarily need to be cited. 
    • If in doubt cite your sources!

Exhibit Sources - generally works of literature, collected data, observed event that you need to analyze. 

  • used to provide an example or give evidence for a claim
  • News or popular sources can be great places to find descriptions of events to use as exhibit sources. 

Argument Sources - information from other authors you are agreeing with, disagreeing with, or building upon. 

  • puts your research in context of other scholarship on your topic. 
  • More than likely scholarly sources. 

Method Sources - sources that provide underlying framework for your argument. 

  • For some research, this will literally be the methods you use to collect data. 
  • Can be a set of key terms, or a general model or perspective you are writing under.
  • Since methods, like  background knowledge, are often common knowledge in a given discipline, they can sometimes go uncited.

Beam Method

We have spent a lot of time talking about different types of sources and how to evaluate the quality of those sources. But a source is only as strong as how you use it in your paper. You can use a variety of types of sources to provide background information (in this case for your reader), exhibit, argument, or method. We will discuss each of these using the BEAM Method. 

 Background Sources- Provides an overview of a topic, core concepts or basic facts. 

  • Providing the reader basic information about your topic. THIS IS DIFFERENT THAN THE BACKGROUND INFORMATION YOU FOUND WITH CREDO!
  • Noncontroversial, well established information in the field
  • Can be common knowledge, and therefore does not necessarily need to be cited. 
    • If in doubt cite your sources!

Exhibit Sources - generally works of literature, collected data, observed event that you need to analyze. 

  • used to provide an example or give evidence for a claim
  • News or popular sources can be great places to find descriptions of events to use as exhibit sources. 

Argument Sources - information from other authors you are agreeing with, disagreeing with, or building upon. 

  • puts your research in context of other scholarship on your topic. 
  • More than likely scholarly sources. 

Method Sources - sources that provide underlying framework for your argument. 

  • For some research, this will literally be the methods you use to collect data. 
  • Can be a set of key terms, or a general model or perspective you are writing under.
  • Since methods, like  background knowledge, are often common knowledge in a given discipline, they can sometimes go uncited.

Using Sources with Beam Example