HOW TO RESEARCH YOUR DENTISTRY ESSAY
The sources which are considered appropriate for a university-level essay are usually
"scientific" or "scholarly" literature (as opposed to popular magazines or
web sites). Most scientific literature is not freely available on the web. Rather, it is published in
scholarly journals, which U of T Libraries may own in print format, or in electronic format (or in both).
Most scholarly journals are peer-reviewed (also called "refereed"); this means that when an author submits an article,
experts in the field evaluate the article and decide whether to publish it.
5. Not all sources are created equal
Scholarly journals are usually recognizable in that:
- they include original research;
- the authors are experts in the field, and their credentials are given;
- there are bibliographies (lists of references) at the end of articles.
To tell if a journal is peer-reviewed (refereed), look up its title in
Ulrich's Periodical Directory. If this symbol
appears next to the title of the journal, it is peer-reviewed.
How far back should you go? This will vary depending on your topic and the nature of your
essay assignment. Do not assume that a publication is irrelevant because it's older. On the other
hand, be aware that in many fields (for instance, drug treatment), older material may have been
superceded by more recent research. So it's important to examine sources in historical
When evaluating a source, you may want to ask questions such as: What are the author's
qualifications? Is the research methodology sound? Are the conclusions evidence-based?
For some other ideas on how to evaluate possible sources, see the web page
Critical Evaluation of Resources (from UC Berkeley Library).
Keeping track of your sources
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© 2004, Margaret Fulford. All rights reserved.