Scholarly Article Autopsy

Submitted by Krista Bowers Sharpe on November 20th, 2017
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Short Description: 

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.

Worksheet Downloaded 1993 times140.94 KB
BowersSharpe_AutopsyLessonPlan2017.docxDownloaded 1342 times18.64 KB
Learning Outcomes: 

● 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.

Individual or Group:

Course Context (e.g. how it was implemented or integrated): 

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.

Additional Instructor Resources (e.g. in-class activities, worksheets, scaffolding applications, supplemental modules, further readings, etc.): 

Lesson plan with tips for guided discussion.

Assessment or Criteria for Success
Assessment Short Description: 
The librarian and the teacher of record will evaluate students’ learning based on the verbal reports of their article comparisons and the resulting discussion between groups. Additional assessment will take place after the session by examining the written worksheets and marked-up articles.
Potential Pitfalls and Teaching Tips: 

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.

Suggested Citation: 
Bowers Sharpe, Krista. "Scholarly Article Autopsy." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2017.