Monday, October 12, 2015

Two Easy Initial Steps for Better Grades

Some steps toward better grades are so easy and intuitively obvious you would think everyone would take them. Yet, many students fail to lay the ground work for good grades the very first day of the course. Be sure you take these easy initial steps.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Students: Don't Use Google

A sure way to get misdirected and to waste a lot of time with ideas and sources that have no place in academic writing is to use Google as a search tool for your topic. As an online student with limited time (probably with a family to take care of), you don't want to do things that are counter-productive. Almost invariably, nationally accredited academic institutions require that academic papers use peer-reviewed literature. WEBSITES, PAPERS, ARTICLES, OR BLOG POSTS FOUND THROUGH ORDINARY GOOGLE SEARCHES ARE NOT LIKELY TO BE PEER-REVIEWED LITERATURE. Websites sponsored by organizations dedicated to a single cause (abortion rights, worker rights, global warming, etc.) are not likely to be peer-reviewed either.

The best way to find peer-reviewed literature for your research topic is to use a search engine that is designed specifically for that purpose. Almost every college library has access to one. As an online student, you can easily access it. Once you are logged in, use the database to search for your topic in peer-reviewed literature ONLY.

For some reason, I have had a number of students who seem completely mystified by the concept of "peer-reviewed literature." "Peer-reviewed" means that the article was submitted to a publication that reviews articles using a panel of recognized experts in the field. Scientists, medical professionals, psychologists -- "peers" in the field -- must approve of the article before it is published.

This video shows how to use the EBSCO host, a popular database: The video also shows how to get your citations easily.