Whenever I or the other Capella librarians bring up web resources such as blogs, learners will often respond with the question:
“How can I use those in my papers? They’re not scholarly sources.”
That’s a great question. Blog posts aren’t peer-reviewed journal articles. Many of them are hardly more than a paragraph or two. They aren’t going to be suitable for a paper or your dissertation, but they are a great way to find out about scholarly research.
How? Many scholars and professionals blog about their fields. They’ll mention important events and publications, or talk about recent hot topics. Most will also link to other resources or cite important research papers. You can then use that information to drill down to the actual research.
I just had that experience today. I saw a post on one of the librarian blogs I monitor: “You’ll Like This Post.” The post mentioned some recent research into the effect of reading novels. I was intruiged by the idea that reading novels can improve social skills, so I checked out the link embedded in the post.
That brought me to the Globe and Mail article “Socially Awkward? Hit the Books.” It mentioned a recent article in the journal New Scientist that surveyed the research on the topic.
With that bit of knowledge I went to Journal Locator, looked up New Scientist, and then searched in that journal for articles with the keyword “fiction” from the last month. I very quickly found “The Science of Fiction; Reading Novels Isn’t Just Entertaining, It Helps You Navigate the Complex Social World.”
That article mentions several scholarly journal articles – I was able to use Journal Locator to find several of the scholarly journal articles mentioned, including “Bookworms Versus Nerds: Exposure to Fiction Versus Non-Fiction, Divergent Associations with Social Ability, and the Simulation of Fictional Social Worlds.”
One article is still in press. To make sure I can still find that article when it’s finally available, I can manually add it to my RefWorks account and put it in a “too read” folder. Then I can check for it later.
So, from a simple blog post I was able to pull together the full text of several research articles in under 10 minutes. And I now have evidence that my time spent reading on the bus is making me a better person! Not that a librarian would be biased on that account . . .