Know your read­ing ma­te­rial

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - STAR SPECIAL HIGHER EDUCATION - By EllEn WhytE

WHEN you’re study­ing, ap­proach­ing dif­fer­ent types of in­for­ma­tion in spe­cific ways will help you make the most of your work. Jour­nals Aca­demic jour­nals used to be the best source of qual­ity in­for­ma­tion be­cause ev­ery ar­ti­cle was read, cri­tiqued and edited un­til it was per­fect. These days, there are lots of jour­nals that will print any­thing as long as the au­thor pays. Also, con­fer­ences print “jour­nals”. So, when you’re read­ing, you have to check how the source deals with its con­trib­u­tors.

Gold stan­dard is a peer re­viewed jour­nal and have a look to see who is on the board of re­view­ers. If they’re all work­ing to­gether, it may in­di­cate a sup­port group rather than an im­par­tial judg­ment. Me­dia News­pa­pers and mag­a­zines are ter­rific be­cause they fo­cus on what’s new and ex­cit­ing. They also make very com­pli­cated things sim­ple. While you can trust some es­tab­lished na­tional news­pa­pers im­plic­itly, some mag­a­zines tend to go for shock value or glam­our be­cause that’s what sells best.

This means they not cover the whole sub­ject and they may leave out facts that de­tract from their head­line. When ex­perts and stud­ies are men­tioned, al­ways check the source. Fo­cus or va­ri­ety? When you’re writ­ing a lit­er­a­ture re­view, you’ll want to fo­cus mostly on peer re­viewed jour­nals as these are con­sid­ered gold stan­dard ma­te­rial.

How­ever, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at con­fer­ence pa­pers to see what the hot topics are, and at news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines to see what sort of in­for­ma­tion (and mis­in­for­ma­tion) is out there. By re­fer­ring to all these, you can show your reader that you’re well-versed in your field – and that should get you an A.

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