Scholarly Article Autopsy
This lesson is intended as a single session within a major’s research methods course. Rather than using a shorter “scholarly vs. non-scholarly” comparison worksheet, this activity asks students to work in groups to systematically examine a scholarly article in depth, identify and evaluate its various components visually and in writing, and then compare it to a non-scholarly article on the same topic. Groups then report back to the entire class. Discussion is guided so as to touch on the processes by which sources are created, what these methods say about their authority, and to consider contextually appropriate uses for them.
Lesson plan with tips for guided discussion.
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● The student will be able to identify the standard elements of scholarly writing.
● The student will be able to distinguish scholarly from non-scholarly literature.
● The student will be able to select the appropriate type of source to use in various contexts.
Information Literacy concepts:
Individual or Group:
Although the activity was developed for students taking two social science majors' research methods courses (SOC 323 and ANTH 305), it could be adapted to any setting that lends itself to in-depth examination of information creation processes, the construction of authority, and the contextual appropriateness of sources.
Unless seating allows for sitting in circles, pairs work better than groups of three for this activity; Some groups/students will spend too much time on some questions, so time-keeping and pacing are necessary; it is difficult to fit this activity into a 50-minutes session.