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How to Read for Grad School

Identify Resources

Throughout your time at Meadville you will be asked to do research for some classes. When doing research it is important to look at characteristics of a resource to determine if it fits your research needs and is a viable resource. Look at elements like:

Source of publication

  • What is the name of the journal and what discipline is it working in? Sample first page of a journal article with arrows highlighting journal title and journal author
  • Who is the author and what are their credentials?
  • How is the author connected to the publisher?
  • If it is a website, what type is it based on the top level domain: is it commercial, educational, governmental, or non-profit?

Chart of domain names and associated types of organizations


Peer review status

If a journal is peer reviewed, it means that the articles published within have been reviewed and/or qualified by a selected panel of acknowledged experts in the field of study covered by the journal. Articles are checked for clarity, technical accuracy, and verifiable citations. While peer review does not necessarily mean that the author's conclusions are absolute, it does mean the article met all requirements of the peer review board as appropriate for the journal. When searching in journal databases you are given the option to limit search results to just those from scholarly, peer reviewed journals. See the guide for Using Atla Religion Database with AtlaSerials for more details on refining your search results by peer review status.

Flow chart of peer review process

Click to enlarge

Date of publication

The recentness of an resource will matter to varying degrees depending on the type of research you are doing and in what discipline. In general, unless you are doing an exhaustive literature review to err towards more recent scholarship - the last ten years give or take. Using contemporary scholarship will strengthen your any written argument you make and will lessen the risk of repeating or contradicting recent findings/theories that have been established. See the guide for Using Atla Religion Database with AtlaSerials for more details on refining your search results by date of publication. Or, see the Using the Online Catalog guide for details on refining your search results by date of publication when searching the Wiggin Library and I-Share catalog. 

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