Physics 111 – Introductory Physics – Thompson
About this guide
This guide includes tutorials about scientific research and provides students with recommendations for finding and evaluating information on topics related to physics. Use the tabs above to navigate through the pages of the guide.
Complete your library research lab worksheet and the tutorials included in this guide. Find the news articles here:
Consult these campus resources for help with writing and editing:
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The Scientific Research Process
The scientific research process involves developing questions, testing ideas and hypotheses by gathering and analyzing data, developing more questions, and sharing information with other researchers.
Primary & Secondary Research
Scientists use both primary and secondary research to explore their fields of study. Watch the video below to learn more about primary and secondary research:
Conducting scientific research, whether as a professional scientist or as a student of science is like having a conversation with other scientists exploring the same topic. Complete the tutorial below to learn more about scholarly conversations:
Types of Scientific Literature
Scientists share information with each other, and with the public, through a variety of different types of sources, from blog posts to scholarly articles. Read the descriptions of different types of scientific literature here.
Many scholarly articles are reviewed by experts before publication. Watch the video below for information on the peer review process, then take the quiz below the video (you will need to enter your name, your professor’s name, and your email address before taking the quiz):
Elements of Scholarly Articles and How to Read Them
Watch the brief video below for an overview of the elements of scholarly research articles:
Reference sources are a great place to find scientific terms, definitions, and background information on scientific topics. The following reference database allows you to access reference books online (to access online library resources from off campus, enter your Pipeline username and password when prompted):
- Credo Reference Contains the full text of over 800 encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference books covering all major subject areas.
Search the library catalog for books on your topic. The library’s collection includes both print books and online ebooks. Your search results will include articles as well. Limit to books by choosing the appropriate box from the menu to the left of the results.
Search for articles from periodicals (journals, magazines, and newspapers) by using the library catalog and limiting your results to articles, or by searching a library database, such as one of the following databases (library databases will require you to log in with your Pipeline information from off campus):
- Academic Search Premier A great starting point for research on any topic. This multi-disciplinary database provides full text for more than 4,600 journals, including full text for nearly 3,900 peer-reviewed titles.
- JSTOR Contains articles from hundreds of scholarly journals covering a wide range of subjects in the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Full text articles are available, from the first issue (sometimes going back over 100 years) until five years ago.
- Science Full Text Select Provides full text for more than 400 journals dating as far back as 1994. Subject coverage includes agriculture & agricultural research, atmospheric science, biochemistry, biology, biotechnology, botany, chemistry, environmental science, geology, marine biology microbiology, physics and much more.
- Google Advanced Search
Try limiting domain (.edu or .gov) and filetype (pdf) to find more credible and relevant sources on the Internet.
Figuring out whether the information you find online is credible enough for college research can be challenging. Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Source Evaluation Questions to help you determine whether the sources you find are credible:
- Purpose: How and why the source was created. Is it intended to educate, inform, persuade, sell, or entertain? Do the authors, publishers, or sponsors state this purpose, or try to disguise it? Why was this information published in this particular type of source (book, article, website, blog, etc.)? Is the source designed for the general public, students, or experts?
- Relevance: The value of the source for your needs. Does the type of source meet your assignment’s requirements? Does the information answer your question, support your argument, or add something to your knowledge of the topic? Is it too general or too specific? Is it too basic or too advanced?
- Objectivity: The reasonableness and completeness of the information. Do the authors present the information thoroughly and professionally? Is it fact or opinion? Is it biased? Do the authors use strong, emotional, manipulative, or offensive language? Do they leave out, or make fun of, important facts or alternative perspectives?
- Verifiability: The accuracy and truthfulness of the information. Do the authors support the information they present with strong factual evidence? Do they cite or provide links to other sources? What do experts say about the topic? Can you verify the information in other credible sources? Does the source contradict itself, include false statements, or misrepresent other sources?
- Expertise: The authority of the creators of the source. What makes the authors, publishers, or sponsors of the source authorities on the topic? Do they have related education, experience, or other expertise? Do they provide an important alternative perspective? Has the source been reviewed in some way, such as by an editor or through peer review?
- Newness: The age of the information. Is your topic in an area that requires current information (such as science, technology, or current events), or could information found in older sources still be useful? When was the information presented in the source first published or posted? Are newer sources available that would add important information to your understanding of the topic?
For more help locating reliable information online, see the Finding Credible Web Sources research guide.
What Is Authority?
Watch the video What is Authority and consider how the authority of a source may depend on the situation.
Complete this tutorial to learn some strategies for evaluating the credibility of sources.
Identifying Fake News and Pseudoscience
Watch the video below to learn how to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources of information. For more information about fake news, see the Real vs. Fake News research guide.
Beware Filter Bubbles
A filter bubble or echo chamber is the result of website algorithms designed to determine which content you want to see and which you don’t, based on your past behavior and other information about you. Over time, the web content you see represents an increasingly narrow range of information and ideas, and you are exposed to fewer and fewer experiences, ideologies, and perspectives that differ from yours.
For more information about echo chambers and filter bubbles, check out our Fake vs. Real News research guide, or watch this TED Talk by Eli Pariser:
Use either APA, ACS, or MLA style for your citations.
- Camosun College guide
- Overview of APA Style
- Electronic source examples from Purdue OWL
- Periodical examples from Purdue OWL