1. Background: Where do you want to go?

click to view the Research Roadmap diagramYou do research every day. Activities such as deciding what to buy, what movie to watch, how to fix something, where to go on vacation, surfing a new website and so on all have elements of research. Scholarly research takes these same skills and abilities and fine tunes them for the academic world.

Lets take a look at the example of planning for a vacation. You have to decide where to go, when to go, the costs, what the weather is, what to pack and more. These all involve research. Although it is tempting to just get in the car and go, experience has taught us that trips generally go better with some forethought. But how does this compare to scholarly research?

Characteristics of Scholarly research

    Scholarly research is a formal type of research.
  • Scholars use research to learn about topics and how other scholars think.
  • Scholars use research from different time periods and very current research to trace how ideas or theories have changed over time.
  • Scholars critically evaluate sources and become familiar with specific sources and authors in their discipline.
  • Scholars use evidence from other scholars in their writing and clearly credit and cite the ideas of others.

Scholarly Research is closely tied to the Scholarly Writing Process Undergraduate Research:
Undergraduates are new scholars. Their challenge as scholarly researchers is to learn and apply research skills both on the Internet and in the Library. Scholarly research is used by undergraduates to learn about the major theories and concepts within their disciplines; critically analyze what they read; and in research assignments, produce evidence of their mastery of facts, theories, methods, and academic genres. In summary, undergraduate students use scholarly research to learn, and instructors use research assignments as tools to increase student learning.

Graduate Research
Graduate students are seasoned scholars. Their challenge as scholarly researchers is to create a context for the evidence and research they find. They need to know the foundational authors, theories and journals within their discipline. At the point of writing their dissertations, they are expected to use the literature as a basis for creating new knowledge and for making unique discoveries. The purpose of graduate level scholarship is ultimately to discover and communicate new truths that scholars in the field, or even those beyond the field, will consider important.

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