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ENVH 110 - Gunther: Keywords/Scientific vs. Popular

in the research process: Keywords / Scientific vs. Popular

This guide should help you:

  • Form an approach to initiating an assignment.
  • Use keywords related to your chosen case study topic.
  • Distinguish the differences between popular and scientific journal articles.
  • Explore the library's information resources.
  • Evaluate the information you are finding on your topic.  
  • Select three journal articles to use for your analysis.  
  • Cite the journal articles in proper APA format.

Scientific vs. Popular

Primary Sources are articles that contain original research, or new research and findings.  They are marked in the sciences by containing the following sections:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials & Methods
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion

For most of the research that you do, you will be both looking for *and* using primary sources.  Primary sources are indexed within academic databases - and we have lots of those for you to search through!  Use the "Find articles" tab to look over these and start searching!

Secondary Sources are articles that contain summaries or explanations of someone else's original research.  Secondary sources interpret and/or review primary sources - they do NOT contain original research.

Most of the time when you are doing Lit Review research, you will *not* be looking for secondary sources.  However, some secondary sources are a nice summary of changes that have happened over time in a certain discipline or topic of study, so they can be useful in that way way.  We have lots of secondary sources in our "Find articles" tab within this guide.  Click on over and take a look!  


Keyword Exercise

Fill out the keyword sheet to explore wording that is used to describe your topic.

A simple tool such as a thesaurus may allow you to find keyword variations that can be used to search the library catalog, article databases, etc.

Figuring Out How To Describe It

Oddly enough, simply figuring out how to describe what it is that you are looking for can sometimes be the most difficult step of your research.  


You know what your hypothesis is, you know how to describe your research topic in a succinct paragraph to anyone who might ask, but how do you break it down into just four or five words that encapsulate everything that it is you are looking for?


In class we will review how to best come up with keywords and how to brainstorm for more.  You can also use the worksheet linked above for additional practice!