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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Anthropology 515IA: Illinois Anthropology: Defining Scholarly Research

This guide was created to supplement library instruction for the Anthropology PhD seminar Anth515IA.

The many forms of scholarly research

Scholarly research in anthropology is published/documented in many different formats. On this page is a brief list of descriptions of several different formats that you should be aware of as a PhD student in anthropology. Each format also has its own "sub-page" with information about where to find these resources in the library and online.

Sources of Scholarly Research:

  • Journal Articles: Publishing original research in a scholarly journal is frequently the ultimate goal of the researcher, and usually required as part of  the tenure process for academic faculty. Therefore, journals are a major source of information about past research on a given topic, and a literature review should usually begin with a search in relevant article databases. Some journals also contain book reviews, or reviews of recent research trends in the field. The Journal Articles sub-page contains more details about the types of journals and article databases that are recommended for anthropology research.
  • Conference Proceedings: Researchers often present their research at a professional organization's or institution's conference, and some conference proceedings (including abstracts of presentations and papers related to the research) are published in print or online. Conference papers (both published and unpublished) may be cited in other scholarly research.
  • Dissertations: As an anthropology PhD student, you will become intimately and personally familiar with the dissertation process. Universities generally keep at least one copy of all of their students' dissertations at their library, and many are now accessible online.
  • Books: Print and e-books continue to be a valuable resource. Some may be methodological or theoretical (handbooks on research methods, textbooks), others may be useful reference sources (encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories), and some may have original research (ie. case studies). Books with original research or scholarly discourse will often have a main title theme, with each chapter contributed by different scholars and representing their specific viewpoint and/or research related to the general theme.
  • Data/Statistics: Research data collected by scholars, agencies and institutions is often available in online data repositories. Often you can download and analyze their data using statistical software, or by using data analysis tools provided by the repository. Many repositories also provide citations to related publications which have used a certain data set. Statistics (data which have already been analyzed) are also frequently available through databases.

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