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Writing 117 (Silbaugh): Define Your Task

Writing for Social Sciences and Humanities

Scholarly vs. Popular

Often you will be asked to include peer-reviewed literature in your writing.  Fortunately, many databases include a Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed/Academic Journal limiter to help you determine is an article is indeed peer reviewed. 

Information is listed below to describe peer review and to assist you in recognizing peer-reviewed literature.

Begin Research - from The Research Process

This online tutorial leads you through the process from receiving your assignment to defining your topic.  Proceed through the tutorial to see an example.

Original Research

Within research articles, you may find original research articles which are a study or experiment with a hypothesis. 

  • authors will report the purpose of the study, the research methodology, and results 
  • particularly predominant in medical and psychology literature

Some databases allow you to narrow to original research.  For example in PsycInfo, you can choose to search for articles based on a specific methodology e.g. Empirical Study or in PubMed you can choose to Limit to Clinical Trials.

Non-original research articles include reviews. 

  • summarize or synthesize content from earlier published research
  • useful for surveying the literature on a specific research area

Thinking about Topics

What other questions might I ask while thinking about these as potential topics?

#1 I want to investigate the impact of farm work on immigrant families.

#2 What is the latest literature on strategies to reduce childhood obesity?

#3 What really caused the recession?  Was it the housing bubble?

Original Research or Review?

Examine this article and determine if it is original research or a review.

Does personality affect dietary intake?

Original Research or Review

Examine this article and determine if it is original research or a review.

Gender differences in implicit and explicit personality traits

Reference Materials

Specialized Encyclopedias

Visit Databases --> By Format --> Reference
Use these sources to find background information or definitions on a topic.

Credo Reference

Oxford Reference Online