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ALEC 440 - Business and Research Writing

Scholarly Sources

How can you tell if an article is an empirical research article? Below is a tutorial from North Carolina State University that explores the anatomy of a scholarly article. This tutorial is interactive. Place your cursor over the different sections of the article. When you click on a section, a brief description of the section will appear.  View the Anatomy of a Scholarly Article tutorial in a new tab.

Literature Reviews vs. Empirical Literature

When you are searching for scholarly resources that will support your topic, you may see the words "literature review" or "empirical research." What do they mean? 

  • Literature reviews provide an overview of a topic by compiling key sources. Literature reviews explores existing or emerging themes in the literature. Literature reviews can be stand-alone publications or will present as a section of an empirical research article.
  • Empirical research requires observation or measurement. Empirical research studies will take you through the process of the research by stating what questions the research is meant to solve, what methods were employed in the study, an analysis of the research, and the results. 

Popular Sources and Grey Literature

Popular Sources

Popular sources tend to be more distinguishable from scholarly literature. Popular sources can include magazines, newspapers, social media, podcasts, and more. Popular sources are aimed at broader audiences and providing a more cursory overview of a topic or event. 

Grey Literature

Grey literature is literature that does not adhere to the traditional publishing schedules of popular sources or scholarly literature. Grey literature can take many forms and it comes from on the ground agencies such as government entities, extension programs, professional associations, industry professionals. Grey literature is very helpful when you are looking at how specific agencies or groups are discussing a problem or theme in their work.

SIFT Method

S.I.F.T Method description. Details below in text.

SIFT Method

As you begin sorting through search results, having a sound method to evaluate sources can save time and improve the quality of research.

Mike Caulfield's S.I.F.T. Method is a simple, easy-to-remember four step process that can help verify the reputability of resources. 

  • S: Stop and take a few moments to reflect on the resource before beginning to dive deeply into the content. Are you currently familiar with the reputability of the publisher or website? If not, use the other steps in the SIFT process to gauge the reliability of the resource.
  • I: Investigate the Source if you are unfamiliar with the organization or author the resource is from, set aside one or two minutes to discern the level of expertise of the author or if any conflict of interests are present.
  • F: Find better coverage to determine what the most reputable sources on the topic state. Finding better coverage can mean reading more highly trusted sources, more in-depth explanations, or a greater diversity of viewpoints. 
  • T: Trace original claims and media back to original contexts. To follow good practices for research, we need to re-contextualize claims and viewpoints. Trace cited claims, research findings, methods, or other media back to their original publications to verify their veracity first-hand.Try to put publications’ claims into the context of other experts in the field. Remember to be reflective while evaluating sources, to search for consensus or controversy, and to ask for assistance when needed.

Next Steps:

When you are ready to move on, choose the "Creating a Research Poster" button to move on.