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ANTH 2102 - Fall 2023 Library Session


Session OutlineStock image picture of a human figure with a question mark.

Here is a plan for what we will cover today:

  1. Go over assignment details.

  2. Provide an overview of how to search LibrarySearch, Google Scholar, Academic Search Complete, and JSTOR for sources.

  3. Learn the difference between scholarly and non-scholarly sources.

  4. Practice information evaluation skills.

  5. Share some tips about how to read scholarly articles effectively.

  6. Demonstrate how to use Mendeley Reference Manager.

  7. Show a couple of different ways to get help if you have questions.









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Assignment Details

Reference Manager Assignment

Biological Anthropologists closely follow the scientific method through the application of an evolutionary perspective on the human condition. Publications that report the results of a scientific inquiry building from observations, hypotheses, data collection, analyses and interpretations culminate in the production of scientific publications such as peer-reviewed journal articles.

In this assessment you will be guided to build several skills associated with locating, retrieving, referencing, citing and paraphrasing information from scientific publications in biological anthropology. In particular, you will learn to locate original research and data on human skeletal remains.

As well, you will learn to create a citation management database with an easily accessible citation manager (Mendeley). This setup will be useful for your research in anthropology and other disciplines, aiding the development of bibliographies and citations.

  1. Find an article or report from a database (MRU LibrarySearch, Google Scholar, Academic Search Complete, JSTOR).

    • It must include original, primary research, or findings related to a specific site where human remains have been recovered.

  2. Add that article or report to your Mendeley Reference Manager library and take a screenshot of the article in your library.

  3. Create a reference to your selected article or report in APA 7 style.

  4. Summarize and paraphrase the key findings from the article or report in 300-400 words.

Which articles qualify for this assignment?

  • Find an article or report from a database (e.g. links to recommended avenues/journals etc. given below) 

  • It must include original, primary research or findings related to a specific site where human remains have been recovered. Human remains must be the focus. A primary focus only on lithics, pottery, faunal and botanical remains etc. are not relevant for the purposes of this assignment in biological anthropology. 

  • Articles that qualify will have one or more of the following subheadings/areas: 

    • Case Study, Site/s, Skelet* (skeleton/skeletal), Chronology, Materials, Methods, Evidence, Results, Discussion/Conclusion. 

    • Most site reports with skeletal remains will have “maps” and if it is a cemetery report, it may include the layout of the burials/urns (“site plans”), and “tables” of data, etc. Studies may be based on museum collections of skeletal remains.

  • Some journals that would have the type of article you are looking for are:  

    • International Journal of Osteoarchaeology

    • Journal of Archaeological Sciences: Reports

    • Antiquity

    • American Antiquity

    • International Journal of Paleopathology

    • Asian Perspectives

    • Journal/Bulletin of Indo-Pacific Prehistory

    • Latin American Antiquity

    • other regional archaeological journals with site reports that include human remains

Two major journals in Biological Anthropology - Journal of Physical Anthropology and the Journal of Human Evolution may also have articles that meet the criteria. However, syntheses and theoretical perspectives are more common in these journals’ articles. We want an article with actual data on human remains.

General Search Tips

Useful key terms include, but are not limited to:

  • osteoarchaeology

  • bioarchaeology

  • cemetery/"cemetery studies"/"human burial"

  • skeleton/skeletal

  • "human remains"/"human bones"/"human teeth"/dentition

  • a specific bone name: for example, "human mandible"

Consider ways to narrow the topic:

  • include a region, continent, or country

  • include a time frame (e.g., Bronze Age/Mesolithic/Neolithic/Holocene etc.) to be more specific

Conducting Academic Research With LibrarySearch 

LibrarySearch is MRU Library's one-stop search interface/catalogue that brings together resources across format, time, and subject. 

We have about 1.3 million e-resources and 221,000 physical resources in our collection, and LibrarySearch searches across those.

Things to remember when using LibrarySearch:

  1. Sign in to save searches, items, and to request materials.

  2. Use the pin icon to save books and articles to your Favorites for future reference.

  3. Use the filters on the right. You will use Availability, Resource Type, and Date filters most often. Filter settings can be "locked in" so that you don't have to reapply them to every search that you make.

  4. Some items may not be available, however, you can request unavailable items using what is called interlibrary loan.

  5. When viewing an item record, scroll down to the Get it (for hardcopy/physical items) or Access options (for electronic items) section to get access to the item.

Helpful Search Operators to Use in LibrarySearch

You can use what are called search operators to search in a way to combine or omit different terms by telling the search engine exactly what you want and this can help you save some time (and frustration!)

  • Use quotation marks to keep specific phrases together:

    • "cemetery studies"

    • "human burial"

  • Use AND to combine search terms (LibrarySearch automatically creates an AND when you write terms one after another, but it can be good practice to use an AND to help you understand the searches that you build) (AND narrows your search):

    • "human burial" AND osteoarchaeology

  • Use OR to connect two or more similar terms (OR broadens your search):

    • "social media" OR "social networking"

  • Use wild cards to substitute a letter or suffix with a symbol:

    • skelet* (in this example, the search skelet* will search for records that contain strings such as skeleton and skeletal)

Conducting Academic Research With Google Scholar

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is another great way to find high quality resources.

Besides providing links to resources in MRU databases, Google Scholar links to online repositories that contain articles the author has been allowed to upload. and ResearchGate are among the repositories searched by Google Scholar.

By clicking on the Settings icon, you can select library links to show library access for up to 5 libraries (type in Mount Royal and click on save).  If you are logged into MRU library, links should automatically populate if you are running a Google search in another window. 

Google Scholar has a nifty citation chaining function. The Cited by function will forward you to indexed scholarly material that has cited a resource that you may be interested in. The Related articles link will direct you to similar articles that may have the same metadata or keywords. 

Helpful Search Operators to Use in Google Scholar

Google Scholar's Advanced Search is found by clicking the menu icon in the top left.

You can also add search operators to Google Scholar searches to build your own custom advanced searches in similar ways to LibrarySearch:

  • Use quotation marks to keep specific phrases together:

    • "human remains"

  • Avoid using AND to combine search terms with Google Scholar, as the search engine automatically creates ANDs between concepts and sometimes adding an additional AND can confuse the search syntax.

  • Use OR to connect two or more similar terms:

    • "human burial" OR "human remains"

  • Use wild cards to substitute a letter or suffix with a symbol:

    • skelet* (in this example, the search skelet* will search for records that contain strings such as skeleton and skeletal)

Dedicated Databases to Search

Academic Search Complete


Figure 1

Peter Steiner's Famous 1993 New Yorker Cartoon Illustrating an Issue Central to Information Evaluation

Note. From "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" [Cartoon], by P. Steiner, 1993, Wikimedia (

Evaluating Information

It is good to find lots of search results, but, in order to use information skilfully, you need to know how to evaluate that information to determine whether a specific resource is appropriate to use in a specific use case (i.e. for a specific assignment).

The phrase "evaluating information" actually stands in for a wide range of judgments that we make about information in many different contexts, whether those judgments are about relevance, timeliness, quality, etc.

Librarians have developed several different acronyms to help people remember useful criteria to use in information evaluation. One of my personal favourites is RADAR!

RADAR stands for





Reason for Creation

We can ask the following questions to help us assess each criterion:


  • Does this source fit my topic?

  • What is this source's intended audience?

    • Is that intended audience appropriate for my use case in this assignment?


  • Is/are the creator(s) of this source clearly identified or known to us?

  • How important is it in this use case to trust the source's creator(s)?

    • If it is important, why should we trust the source's creator(s)?

    • Is the source's creator credentialed or an expert in their field?


  • Is the creation or publication date of this source identified or known to us?

  • Is this source too old?


  • Do this source's facts "check out"?

  • Does the source have references of its own?

Reason for Creation (take your best guess at this question using judgments from earlier criteria):

  • Why was this source made?

  • Was this source made to sell a product or service, to inform/educate, to entertain, etc?

Scholarly vs. Popular Sources

scholarly publication contains articles written by experts in a particular field. The primary audience of these articles is other experts.

Many of these publications are also referred to as "peer-reviewed," academic, or "refereed." They all mean essentially the same thing and refer to the editorial and publication process in which scholars in the same field review the research and findings before the article is published.


Scholarly / Peer-Reviewed

Popular / Not Scholarly (but possibly still credible!)


  • Expert

  • Journalist / professional writer

Review Process

  • Reviewed by an editorial board or other experts ("peers")

  • Reviewed by an editor

Audience /

  • Scholars and students

  • Technical language

  • General public

  • Easy to understand


  • Original research

  • Uses previously published literature for background

  • News and practical information

  • Uses a variety of sources for background 


  • Always cited

  • Sometimes cited


  • Peer-reviewed articles

  • Scholarly books

  • Literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses

  • Theses and dissertations

  • Magazine articles

  • Newspaper articles

  • Blog articles

  • Encyclopedias

  • Textbooks

  • Websites

  • Social media

Some Helpful Questions for Identifying a Scholarly/Academic Article

  1. What are the author’s credentials? Was it written by an expert?

  2. Was it published in a journal (is there a DOI?)? (If you are not sure if a source is a journal article, you can enter the title of the publication into Ulrichs Web to check.)

  3. Does it use academic or more technical language?

  4. Does it includes a reference list of sources that it is citing?

  5. How long is it? (Scholarly articles are typically longer than popular or news articles.)

  6. Does it have a "Received" and "Accepted" date on it?

  7. Is it an actual article? (Sometimes other types of content are included in scholarly publications, such as editorials/opinion pieces and book reviews. Make sure you are looking at an article.)

Activity: Is It Scholarly?

To make sure we are all on the same page, let's put our knowledge to the test.

Skim the following resources available through the links keeping in mind the characteristics we have discussed in class (for example: what is this information and where did it come from? Was it written by an expert? Where is this source published?).

Vote whether you think this source is Scholarly or Not Scholarly.

Source 1

Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Not Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0
Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Not Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0
Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Not Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0
Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Not Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0
Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Not Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0
Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Not Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0
Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Not Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0
Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Not Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0
Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Not Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0
Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Not Scholarly: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0

Tips for Reading Scholarly Articles

(Adapted from handouts by J. Loyer & M. MacMillan)

Check for relevance – is the article useful for what you’re doing? You will likely never find the perfect article that’s exactly on the topic you have in mind, but you will find ones that are close and useful because:

  • They provide background or context.

  • They provide theories that help you examine/understand a new situation.

  • They look at a similar group of people.

  • They look at similar situations.

  • They use methods that you could use to answer similar questions.

  • They apply techniques that could be useful in your situation.

  • They have useful bibliographies that direct you to even better materials.

Print out the article – research supports that reading comprehension increases when reading in print).

Skim to get the article's general idea – review introduction, headings, conclusion to see if the article will suit your needs.

Get comfortable and carve out a little time – reading for depth takes focus and practice, and you’ll probably have to read the article more than once.

Read with a pen in hand – mark up interesting points, odd words, and circle key concepts.

Read with a questioning spirit – engage in a dialogue with the piece’s author(s) – “really?” “prove it!” “are you sure about that?” – constantly question the author(s).

If possible, practice slow reading – summarize paragraphs as you go and read the article aloud to slow down.

Note unfamiliar words and concepts – look them up on your second read through.

Make connections as you go – note what the article reminds you of, what thoughts it provokes, how it matches or contradicts your experience – these connections are critical to your understanding of texts.

Draw things out – stats, tables, connections or relationships can make more sense if you diagram them.

Consider the article's approaches and limitations – if you started with the same question(s) as the author, how would you approach finding the answers? What’s missing from the article? What questions does it leave you with?

Discuss the article with others – students identified this as a very useful strategy for getting the most out of articles.


Citation Help

  • Use the "cite" feature in most search tools to get you started with most resources (you will need to review and correct the citation).

  • Cite Sources: Learn the correct way to cite sources by using these guides, tutorials, and videos.

  • Academic Success Workshops: Academic Success Workshops are 75 minutes long and are offered both in-person and online. Registration is required.

  • Appointments: Personalized online or in-person 30-minute appointments with a Learning Strategist at Student Learning Services located on the 2nd floor of the Riddell Library & Learning Centre.

  • Use the Service Desk on the 1st floor of the RLLC for assistance as well as the library chat feature on the library website for quick citation questions.

Using a Reference Manager (Mendeley)

Reference/citation management software allows you to save and organize items found via searching the library's databases. It also can be used to create reference lists and citations for papers. There are a number of software systems available

One of the most popular reference managers is Mendeley by Elsevier.

Reasons to choose Mendeley:

  • Your research consists mainly of pdfs. Often this is the choice for researchers in the Sciences.

  • Mendeley works well with Chrome and Safari and has a desktop version (known officially as Mendeley Reference Manager).

  • Free 2 GB cloud storage.

  • Mendeley has very well developed social collaboration tools. For example, you can find citations from similar users and search within its crowd-sourced research database.

  • Desktop version is installed on all publicly accessible computers at MRU.

Find more information about how to use Mendeley at this link: Citation Management Tools (Library FAQs)


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Joel Blechinger
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