Working with the Literature

Reminder: Don't Forget the Quiz & Checklist!

Remember to complete the plagiarism quiz and essay checklist, and to include the confirmation codes from completion of these tasks in your assignment. Failure to do so will result in a grade deduction. Details are available on the Essay Assignment page.

Research is a Conversation

Think of academic research as a conversation. On any topic you wish to work on (trust us, ANY!) there is a relevant conversation going on in the "literature," that is, in the printed or posted pages of refereed publications. We refer to these as your "sources." With your essay, you enter this conversation. You add your voice to those who wrote the sources. The Phase One exercise allows you to choose and evaluate your sources carefully, and to begin understanding your position on your topic as it relates to theirs. This is an extremely important part of the essay writing process - perhaps the most important.

You are learning something here that may extend what you learned in high school. If you learn doing your preliminary analysis of the literature well, you will have acquired a habit that will serve you well throughout university writing and beyond.

Find Your Sources

General Guidelines

For this assignment, you must use:

  • 1 required refereed reading(s) provided on the Topics List
  • At least one other scholarly source from a peer-reviewed journal that you select yourself

In addition, make sure your sources are:

  • Clearly relevant to the essay topic (the more specific, the better!)
  • Clearly addressing the questions posed by the topic description.

What is a Refereed Source?

A refereed source is a scholarly source, also known as a peer-reviewed source.

You can't believe everything that's published. In principle, you should check everything against the available data. Since that is not always possible, peer review at least ensures that quality standards in the discipline are followed. In the peer review process, a work written by one scholar is checked by others in the same field, who then make a recommendation to the editor about whether it should be published.

There are a few peer-reviewed scholarly journals that are only online, and you may use these, but only after verifying with your TA that they are indeed refereed. In addition, many books and almost all scholarly articles are duplicated today on the web. You may use these freely.

When it is Acceptable to Use Unrefereed Sources

You must not use non-refereed sources as authoritative support for your arguments. You must not use them, either, as your required references.

Nevertheless, non-refereed sources are useful as you begin your research. Use encyclopedias, online or in print, and textbooks, as well as magazine and newspaper articles, podcasts and videocasts, to learn about your topic. Just remember that the information has not been checked out, so as you write your essay verify it by reading refereed scholarly sources.

Also, you can and should use non-refereed works as references (refer to them in your paper and include them in the references list) if and only if they are one of the following:

  • A respectable news source (such as The Globe and Mail, for example), only when you are referring to a news event.
  • Any non-refereed source, including a web site, if you do not use it as an authority but as an object of analysis. For example, if you are writing about what a biker web site says about the Canadian economy, then you must of course cite the web site - not as an authority on the economy but as the object of your research.

However, even such sources do not count towards your required number of references.

How Do I Find a Refereed Source?

To find your refereed sources - both books and articles - always use the U of T library site as a starting point. It's an invaluable resource that you'll rarely find outside of the school. We do not recommend using Google or other general search engines. The Library has a special guide for this course, and our ANT100 TAs have also prepared a list of places where you can start searching.

Document Your Sources

Citation Style

When writing your essay, be sure to credit the sources of your information. Prepare your reference list and include in-text citations according to the Style Guide.

Remember to take note of page numbers! This course will require that you provide the page number in all in-text citations.

Avoid Unreferenced Statistics

Unfortunately, it is very common today to use statistics without referencing their source. In this course, we want you to avoid such practice, which is basically relying on hearsay. If you use statistics, reference them as above - make sure they come from a scholarly publication (i.e. not a web site or magazine).

Build Your Reference List

At the end of your paper, you add a Reference List. Title it "References." Your Reference List must include all of, and only the references you have used in the paper. Including references you have not used, or worse, making up references, is a serious academic offense and may result in disciplinary proceedings against you

Some Pointers on Reference List Formatting

  • Do not include the web site information for journal articles that have a print version (which is almost all of them), even if you read them online or downloaded them from the internet. Use the print reference only.
  • Do not include the words "print" or "web," even if the Style Guide permits it.
  • Do not include the doi number.
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