1. Choose your search engine or database.
2. Think about a few keywords that describe your topic. Before you start searching, pause and ask yourself:
- Are there specific terms that a scholar might use to talk about my topic?
- Have I included terms found in any books or articles I've already read on the topic?
3. When you've found a source that looks relevant to your topic, evaluate it. Ask yourself:
- (For a book) Was this book published by a scholarly press?
Some examples of scholarly presses are Duke University Press and Oxford University Press.
There are other publishers who publish scholarly books, but don't have "university" in their name. Some examples include Routledge and Wiley-Blackwell.
- (For an article) Was this article published in a scholarly journal? What is the title of the journal?
- Who is the author? If the author is a scholar, what is their academic discipline? (e.g. are they a sociologist? an anthropologist?)
Google can be helpful here, since most scholars work at universities and colleges and are listed on their institution's website.
4. It's important to understand that scholars connect their work to other scholars' research through citations. Let one good source guide you to others.
- As you start reading, take a look at the books and articles cited. Some may be relevant for your work.
- Try using Google Scholar to search for the title of a book or article you've found helpful. You'll see a link to the number of times this work has been cited. Click the link, and you can see who has cited this source.