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Understanding Urban Communities: EDUC 4496

Course guide for Elena Schmidt & Julia McWilliams' Fall 2016 Sections


This guide is for students in EDUC 4496, Understanding Urban Communities.

chicago red liningUse the tabs to the left to find research for each part of your Policy Intervention Project, including 

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Research Paper
  • Policy Brief

For help with research, please contact your librarian at or schedule an appointment using the button below.

Find Articles in Databases

Use these databases to find research-based articles for each assignment. Databases usually have a mix of research/scholarly and non-scholarly sources, so you'll need to make sure you look closely at any article you choose to discern which type it is. 

Reading a Scholarly Article

After you have decided that a source is potentially useful, read it carefully and critically, asking yourself the following questions about how this research fits your writing project:
  • How relevant is this material to your research question?
  • Does the source include counterarguments that you should address?
  • How persuasive is the evidence? Does it represent opposing viewpoints fairly? Will the source be convincing to your audience?
  • Will you need to change your thesis to account for this information?
  • What quotations or paraphrases from this source might you want to use?

Using Sources from the Internet

Your Annotated Bibliography and Policy Intervention Research Paper ask that you identify and use credible sources as evidence to support your own ideas. In the library's databases, you will find credible sources such as peer-reviewed journal articles; however, sources you find online through Google may work for you as well. The idea is that you want to use sources that are based on existing research or theories. With any source, even those from library databases, you'll want to ask yourself:

  • Who is the author?
  • What publication does this source appear in? Is it a website? A magazine? A scholarly journal? Websites, blogs, and other online publications can be particularly tricky as it's often difficult to discern differences online
  • Is it a trustworthy/credible publication? How do you know?
  • Does the author cite previously published research?
  • Does the author draw on existing theories or authors? Perhaps those you've discussed in class?

Scholarly, Research, Non-Scholarly, Popular, etc.

Different types of publications have different purposes and different audiences. When we talk about source types, we can divide these sources into broad categories such as scholarly and non-scholarly; however, you should evaluate all sources you find and think critically about why and how you are using them. Below are a few characteristics of each and things to consider when using them in your research.

  Scholarly (also referred to as "Research" or "Peer-Reviewed") Non-Scholarly
purpose Often informs and reports on original research done by scholars and experts in the field. May also include sources with general information and established facts. Informs a general audience. May or may not provide in-depth analysis.
authors Articles are written by subject specialists and experts in the field. Articles are written by journalists, freelance writers, or an editorial staff.
audience Intended for a limited audience - researchers, scholars, experts Intended for a broad segment of the population, appealing to non-specialists.
  • Newspaper articles (NY Times, Washington Post, etc.)
  • Magazines (Time, The Atlantic)
  • Blogs
How do I use it?
  • As evidence to support your argument, e.g. you might point to a specific finding in a research study to bolster your own point or opinion.
  • As background/historical information to introduce a topic e.g. you might use information from an encyclopedia article to give your reader an overview of a topic.
  • To engage it's argument, (e.g. you might use an editorial from the New York Times on mental illness to refute in your own paper).
  • A preliminary search tool (e.g. news articles often link to research and data sources that may be "scholarly" or provide a more in-depth analysis).
How to identify it Lengthy list of references to other sources, author credentials May or may not have a list references (often shorter if included at all)

If you have questions about what qualifies as "scholarly" or "credible," ask your instructor or a librarian.