• Content of Your Paper:
    o Topic: Choose a topic of relevance to the field of environmental studies. This is very broad, so you
  • have many options. However, there should be some element that pertains to the environment which can include ecological, health/public health, environmental health, but also issues of urban studies and environmental studies generally. You do not need to consult with me about your topic if your think it falls – again, broadly – within this category (note: most topics will be acceptable). However, if you have a question about your topic, feel free to consult with me.

o Argument: You are writing a position paper, which requires you taking a particular stance and writing about a particular topic. You should have at minimum one (1) primary argument, but you may also have secondary arguments (but this is not required).

o For an argument, you need to clearly state a specific point and how you are going to support that point (or points).

§ For example: Your argument = “Global climate change is happening at a rate much faster than previous estimates by climate scientists.”

So, then you could provide these supporting arguments/positions:

a)  “Climate change scientists argued that polar ice caps would melt Xamount over X years, but new evidence indicates this is happening at Xtimes faster than previously assumed.”

b)  “Climate change scientists and oceanographers now estimates the sealevel rise is happening at X times faster than previously assumed.”

c)  “Climate change scientists including climatologists now have evidencethat sea level temperatures and land mass temperatures are rising at Xrate and X times faster than previously assumed.”

o Conclusion: Your conclusion will be based on the best available evidence you can find in support

of primary argument and your supporting arguments/points.

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  • Sources, Citations, and Peer Review Process Peer reviewed versus non-peer reviewed sources:

Your paper should draw upon a combination of peer reviewed and non-peer review sources. But you must have minimum five (5) peer reviewed sources (but you can have up to fifteen (15) total sources including non-peer reviewed).

  1. Peer-reviewed (refereed or scholarly) journals contain articles are written by academics / experts and are reviewed by other experts before the article is published in the journal to ensure the article’s quality. These articles are more likely to be scientifically / academically valid and reach reasonable/logical conclusions based on the sources used, the argument(s) and supporting arguments, and the reasoning – in many cases, data are provided in support of the arguments and conclusions. In most cases the reviewers do not know the name of the author of the article (“blind review”) so that the article succeeds or fails on its own merit and not the reputation of the author.
  2. Question: How do you determine whether an article qualifies as being a peer-reviewed journal article?
  3. First, you need to be able to identify which journals are peer-reviewed. There are generally a number of methods for doing this:

Limiting a database search to peer-reviewed journals only (you can do this in Google Search). o Some databases allow you to limit searches for articles to peer reviewed journals only. For

example, Academic Search Complete has this feature on the initial search screen – click on the pertinent box to limit the search. In some databases you may have to go to an “advanced” or “expert” search screen to do this. Remember, many databases do not allow you to limit your search in this way.

Examining the publication to see if it is peer-reviewed.
o If by using the above method, you were still unable to identify if a journal (and an article within)

is peer-reviewed, you may then need to examine the journal physically or look at additional pages of the journal online to determine if it is peer-reviewed. This method is not always successful with resources especially since many articles are available only online.

o The following steps are suggested:

§  Locate the journal in the Library or online, then identify the most current entireyear’s issues.

§  Locate the masthead of the publication. This oftentimes consists of a box towards eitherthe front or the end of the periodical and contains publication information such as the editors of the journal, the publisher, the place of publication, the subscription cost and similar information.

§  Does the journal say that it is peer-reviewed? If so, you’re done! If not, move on to the next step.

§  Check the masthead to locate the method for submitting articles to the publication. If you find information similar to “to submit articles, send three copies…”, the journal
is probably peer-reviewed. In this case, you are inferring that the publication is then going to send the multiple copies of the article to the journal’s reviewers. This may not always be the case, so relying upon this criterion alone may prove inaccurate.

§  If you do not see this type of statement in the first issue of the journal that you look at, examine the remaining journals to see if this information is included. Sometimes publications will include this information in only a single issue a year.

§  Also, in your search, try to address the following questions:

Is it scholarly, using technical terminology?

Does the article format approximate the following – abstract, literaturereview, methodology, results, conclusion, and references?

Are the articles written by scholarly researchers in the field related to thecontent of the periodical?

Is advertising non-existent, or kept to a minimum?

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Are there clear references listed in footnotes or bibliographies? If you answered yes to all these questions, the journal is most likely peer reviewed.

If you have a question about whether a source is peer reviewed (or just general issues of sources and paper formatting), please contact the Tulane Librarian Kay P Maye (at kmaye@tulane.edu).

Resources – Research, Writing, and Referencing:

  • Tulane Libraries – Articles

Ethnography of Digital Media (Tulane Library Workshop on Research and Using the Library)

  • o Understanding Peer Review
    o Strategize your Research Question o Using Library Search
    o Article Databases

Citation: How to Cite Your Sources
o American Sociological Association (ASA) Citation Style (REQUIRED)

How to Read a Scholarly Article


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