PHYS 2240: Vlach

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Welcome! Click on a tab below to find books, articles, and websites for use in this course.

You'll need a College of DuPage Library card in order to use most of these resources from off campus.

Questions? Feel free to contact me, stop by the Reference Desk, or contact us by email or chat Want to know more about the COD library? Check out our orientation video.

Image Credit: US Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant
  1. Topic and Reference
  2. Articles
  3. Reading Research Articles
  4. Cite

Getting Started: Finding a Topic

You'll want to start by picking out a topic that is interesting to you. This might be a chance to look at

Feeling kind of lost for topics? Check out your textbook, the New York Times health section or search Google News with the word sports and your topic to see what types of stories come up.

Background Information

We have a number of reference materials that can provide necessary detail so that you understand your topic.

Try the following online sources, each of which have the full-text of hundreds of dictionaries and encyclopedias:

  • Credo Reference will provide definitions of technical terms, statistics, etc. This can help you to learn more about your topic.

Finding Articles

Articles will give you current and in-depth information about your research topic.

PsycInfo is a scholarly article database focused on psychology. Good search terms include sports, athletic participation, and athletic performance.

Pay attention to the limiters on the left side of the screen: "linked full-text," "subjects," and the date range can really change your search.

Finally, the Thesaurus at the top of the screen can help you change your word choice or narrow your topic.

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Reading Research Articles

Struggling to read your scientific scholarly article, even though it looks like it might be a perfect fit for your topic?

Try using the info below as a guidepost to help you understand the article. To begin, figure out if you're reading a Research Article or a Review Article.

Start by looking for the distinctive markers of a scholarly article: are the authors' degrees or university affiliations listed? Do you see an abstract? How about charts, tables, graphs?

If you are using a scientific research article, you'll see the following distinctive sections:

  • Abstract: a paragraph summary of the research question and findings
  • Introduction: the research question: what did the scientists set out to know? Also provides context to the study: what did we know about the topic? Who answered the most important questions so far? Will include many citations.
  • Method: the experiment design
  • Results: The data gathered by the experiment
  • Discussion: analyzes the results. What do we understand about the topic after the experiment has been conducted?
  • Conclusion: lists further questions to be studied
  • References or Works Cited: functions just as yours will. What research has been referenced throughout the paper?

Some of these sections may be merged with other sections, have slightly different names, be combined together (results and discussion often share a single section) or may not be labeled, but all should be present in one way or another.

Confused? Take a look at page one of a scholarly research article below:

scholarly article marked.png
Notice the following:

  1. The authors list a university affiliation
  2. The abstract is right in the center of the page
  3. The (unmarked) introduction

Want to take a closer look? Cladophora (Chlorophyta) spp. Harbor Human Bacterial Pathogens in Nearshore Water of Lake Michigan is a research article found on PubMedCentral, the government-sponsored free article database. You can use this as a model scholarly research article.

Having Trouble Reading Your Article?

  • Remember to start with your abstract. The summary will tell you where the authors are heading and help you to fight through confusing sections.
  • Try reading your article out of order! (No one said we have to follow the rules all the time, right?) Start with the abstract, and skim through the Introduction and the Conclusion (Don't see one? Read the Discussion instead.) Note the hypothesis and article findings. Then read the whole article, remembering that the Materials and Methods sections are often long and full of complex concepts.
  • Be careful to be very conscious of whatever section you're reading, because that will tell you the types of info that you're reading: are you in Methods? If so, you're looking at experimental design. Are you looking through Results? If so, you're looking at the data that was gathered, etc., etc.
  • Check out this handy book that discusses reading and critiquing scholarly articles.
  • This article, "To understand a scientific paper, delve into its parts" by Bethany Brookshire (a working scientist) also does a good job of breaking down scientific articles. The second article, Four tips for reading a scientific paper, also offers great advice on how to deal with dense language, as well as important questions to ask about any article you read.
  • Remember that you can use reference databases to explain words or concepts that you're unfamiliar with. Try searching Credo or Gale to start.

Citing Sources

Find directions about how to cite your sources on the library citation guide.

Most databases will have a Cite link that you can also click to get article citations.

Finally, you are welcome to use NoodleBib if you'd like to use a program to create and organize your citations. You must "Create a New Folder" when you use NoodleBib for the first time. Click on "I am citing a(n):," choose the type of item you are citing, and then fill in the online form. Your bibliography will be formatted for you.

Worried about accidentally committing plagiarism? Check out the library's guide to academic honesty.