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How to Read for Grad School

Leverage Resources

Book Reviews

Journal databases typically include book reviews in results in addition to standard articles. In major scholarly journals there is typically a review section that evaluates books new to market in the discipline covered by the journal. When beginning research, consider looking at book reviews in academic journals to guide the building of your references. Look at a few reviews for a given title from different publications. Then, take the best titles from your assessment and search for them in the online catalog. For more information on locating specific titles, see the Using the Online Catalog Guide.

Citation Pearl Growing

Citation pearl growing is the strategy of using one relevant source or citation to find more relevant sources on a topic. The first step is identifying a resource (book, article, etc.) that matches your desired topic or answers part of your research question. From this resource you can identify keywords, descriptors, or themes to use in subsequent searches. Some options might be:

- Keep a list of subjects and keywords that are evident in good sources

- Identify publishers or book series that cover your topic well

- Identify an author or authors in the discipline to seek out more of their work

Whether the initial source you identify is a book or a journal article, if you are satisfied with the quality and relatedness of the source go to the References or Works Cited and track them down from the Wiggin Library. Then when you identify useful sources amongst those, go to those sources' References or Works Cited and track down their citations. Each good source builds on the next and you will get a good contextual picture of the scholarly conversation around your topic - just as layers upon layers of mother of pearl coats a grain of sand inside an oyster to become a pearl. Continue this process until you are satisfied that you've built up all of the sources you want to answer your research question. Keep track of all citations in a running document, or make use of a citation manager. You can also leverage features in the Wiggin Library online catalog as well as journal databases like saving "favorites" or creating lists of sources to refer back to. For tips, see the Instruction Guides section of our Subject Guides: Guides By Subject.

Pearls inside an oyster shell

"Pearl" is marked with CC0 1.0

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