Understanding sources and finding scholarly sources

  • DUE: Thursday Oct. 22, 11.59PM: submit your answers to the questions in the google form (linked below)
  • Next week: comments on the answers - this is a conversation we'd normally have in the library, but we will now have it through Google Sheets comments, spread over about 10-12 days.
  • You may collaborate in groups, and submit your answers as a group in the google form, just list your names in the first question.
    • It's ok if you don't all agree on the answer, it's useful (and fun!) to see where and how/why you disagree.

This exercise will help you think about the quality of the sources you find. Not everything you find in a quick google search is reliable information about Chinese history - far from it! For your final project, you should use reliable, scholarly sources, so you know the information they contain is correct, and not just hearsay or based on out-of-date theories. The Trexler library catalogue is a much better starting place, but even then there are a few basic tricks to help you assess the quality of a source within minutes of laying eyes on it, if you know what to look for.

Kelly Cannon, the subject librarian for Humanities, is our main guide in this journey, and he created this simple but effective exercise for us. You will fill out your/your group's answers to the questions on this google form: My answers for the exercise on sources.

Step 1
  • Visit the library subject guide for your course: https://libraryguides.muhlenberg.edu/stuff
  • On it you will see links to 6 articles, under “Article activity.” All of the articles are about the acquisition of Chinese art by the West, and how some in China now want their art back.
  • Briefly skim each of the 6 articles. Note the publication name/website/source of each. Note any signs of an article being authoritative/scholarly.
  • After your perusal, which article would you say is the most “authoritative”? Why? Would you go so far as to call the source you picked “scholarly”? Why or why not?
  • Fill out your answer on the Google Form question "Step 1"
Step 2:
  • Reflect again on the 6 articles. Which of the sources would you be least likely to use in a college-level research paper. What reasons could you give for not using this source in your paper?
  • Fill out your answer on the Google Form question "Step 2"
Step 3 (a-c)
  • Look at article 6. Look in it for footnote # 19. In this footnote, two sources of additional information are named. One is by James Cuno. What is the title of this resource?
  • Judging just by the footnote, is this resource by Cuno considered scholarly or not? How so?
  • Now return to the library subject guide for your course at https://libraryguides.muhlenberg.edu/stuff .
  • Click on Encompass Search, our library catalog of books, e-books, and journal articles. Search on the title by Cuno. Is this book held by Muhlenberg College Trexler Library?
  • Fill out the answers to these questions on the Google Form, Step 3a, b, c
Step 4 (a-b)
  • In Encompass Search, our library catalog of e-books, books, and journal articles, search on the following as KEYWORDS: Museum culture theft
  • One of the books is by Jeanette Greenfield. What is the title?
  • Now visit the library home page at http://trexler.muhlenberg.edu and view News and Updates. What is the process for obtaining a print copy of a book like the one by Greenfield during the pandemic?
  • Fill out the answers to these questions on the Google Form, Step 4a, b

Once you have submitted your answers, I will create a Google Sheet from the form, and from Friday (Oct. 23) you will be able to comment and have a discussion about the answers: just like in real research, there are some complex cases on this list, and you can't expect clear-cut black and white answers.

Part 2:

Comments and discussion with your classmates!

If you've filled out the Google Form, you'll be granted access to the spreadsheet with the answers from your fellow students, and can start commenting and comparing answers.

We will create a shared list of characteristics that you can draw on when you are looking for materials and sources for your final project, so you can deliver a quality product!