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African Literary Criticism

ENGL 203-04 Olaocha N. Nwabara


  • I am confused about how a paper/ article can be publish without citing its sources and references.

    • Anything can happen in life. With so many venues available to publish information such as, the social media platforms, blogs, book publishing platforms such as Blurb, people have the opportunity to make their ideas visible to the world. Therefore, is possible to find and access information that is missing works cited list, citations and so forth.

  • How can you make sure something is peer-reviewed?

    • If you are not sure if the article you found is peer reviewed, find information about the journal that published it.  Copy and paste its title into Google and find their website. Usually, their policies and credentials can be find on their home page. See the example, International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing

  • Are popular articles ever okay to reference in academic writing?

    • Yes, although it will depend on the expertise of the author and publisher. For example, if the article was publish in an academic blog, reputable organization or government website it is most likely that the information is reliable to be cited in your work. However, I would consult with your professor if it is fine to cite popular sources. Here is an example of a popular source that, if relevant to my topic, could be cited,

  • What do you do if the abstract is not labeled?

    • Abstract should be always labeled as such. If happens that is not, it could be that the article has no abstract. In this case read the introduction of the paper or try to find a review.

  • Why not start with scholarly articles?

    • If your are in the beginning of your research process it is recommended that you start looking for sources such encyclopedia articles, dictionaries, scholarly blogs, etc. that help you understand the subject. This is know as background research. The idea is for you to become familiar with the vocabulary of the field of study. Understanding the subject and its vocabulary will help you build up effective search strategies to retrieve the scholarly article you eventually will be reading.

  • One thing I am confused about is when to properly use different types of articles.

    • This will depend on your research topic. Is your topic is science related you will be mostly using scholarly article, data sets or government reports. However, if your are in the humanities field you might be using physical books, online book chapters, primary sources such as paintings, printed photos and scholarly articles.

  • Which databases should I use for different subjects?

    • You should use multidisciplinary databases such as Academic Search Complete, ProQuest and Gale Virtual Reference Library.

  • Why is there is no abstract on popular articles?

    • For instance a scholarly article can be as long as 20 pages (or more) where a popular source may be 2 pages long. My understanding is that abstracts are no required in a popular sources because these does not take long time to read, however, a research paper does take time not only for its length but also for the use of stilted vocabulary. Abstract are require for scholarly papers because it helps the reader quickly ascertain the paper's purpose. Let’s see it this way, if you have 50 scholarly articles to chose from, what is most time effective to do, to read each abstract or to read the each 21 pages long paper? 

  • One thing I am still confused about is finding how a source is reliable.

    • What makes a source of information reliable depends on many factors such as authors expertise, date of publication, publisher, intended audience a so forth. Thus, finding how a source is reliable depends on your critical thinking skills. There are many guides that list you some questions and criteria to consider when evaluating a source but at the end is on you to decide what makes that source reliable. However, if you want to play safe in your paper, try to cite scholarly sources such as book chapters, articles and government information. This kind of information is consider to be reliable.

    • Some resources to consult about this topic: Evaluate Information and Its Sources Critically & Decoding Fake News: Decoding Fake News

  • What’s the best source to use for a reflective paper?

    • A good source to learn about reflective papers are the research guides. In Google type “how to write a reflective paper libguides”. You will pull up around  268,000 authored by librarians or academics. Here is a good example of a libguide or research guide, How to Write a Reflection Paper.

  • Schedule an appointment with a librarian if:

    • You want to know more about how to find subject specific databases

    • How to look up for articles in a database

    • How to look up for peer review articles

    • You want to understand how to search in a database

    • How to limit your search results or build up search terms