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Thinking about your proposal

  • Briefly go over how you would use the library for this course
  • Speak to how to critically read a research paper
  • Ask you to engage in a learning activity that can develop your critical evaluation skills to identify research methods
  • Share some examples of an annotated bibliography
  • Demonstrate some possibilities of how to break down your topic
  • Demonstrate how to use Sage Research Methods database to learn more about methodolgies
  • Direct you to citation resources and where to get help

Narrowing your topic

Dr. Cullen provided a list of possible topics; however, be aware that a topic such as "impacts of domestic violence" is far too broad but can be narrowed by focusing on a particular aspect.  Brainstorm possible specific topics or read an article about the Paleolithic that answers some of the following questions pertaining to this very broad topic

Who: e.g. women; children; youth; young offenders; university students

What: e.g. future relationships; interpersonal relationships; mental health;

Where: e.g. Canada; Alberta; Calgary; MRU

When: This can vary depending on your topic, but for the above example, you may look at pre- or post-factors (like child development, or PTSD).

Why: effects on communities, development, justice systems, and families

Annotated Bibliography

What is it?

An annotated bibliography is a list of references with a brief description

  • Includes complete bibliographic information (a citation)
  • Summarize the work – describe the content of the article
  • Evaluate the work – critically look at the scope or main purposes of the work. 
  • Note authority (who wrote it) and any possible biases
  • Determine the relevance – discuss how the source is relevant to your topic
  • Do NOT use the abstract to summarize, use your own words
  • Demonstrates that you have taken the time to look at a variety of sources to support your topic

Things to Remember

To avoid plagiarism when paraphrasing, remember these five important points:

1) Your paraphrased text should be significantly different from the original (i.e. don't just change a few words here and there)

2) You must change the structure of the sentence or paragraph you are paraphrasing, not just the words.

3) If you use anyone else's words verbatim (word for word) you need to put quotation marks around it.

4) Use proper citation methods to give credit for the ideas, opinions, or theories you are presenting.

5) Check that you have preserved the original meaning of the text in your paraphrased version

What do I need to include?

An annotated bibliography entry consists of two components: the Citation and the Annotation. For this assignment, use APA style format (7th ed.) or ASA style (4th ed.)

Generally, an annotation is approximately 100-300 words in length (one paragraph). 

Include a brief summary or description of the information provided by each source.
▪ including methodologies, strengths, weaknesses, and conclusions drawn.
▪ Discuss how and why the source is relevant to your topic and research.

Examples of Annotated Bibliographies and how to format 

Primary Research vs.  Review Articles 

Research Articles Review Articles

A research article, or sometimes referred to as empirical study, will report on data gathered and analyzed as part of an original experiment. There will be...

  • At least one experimental group and a control group of study participants 

  • A methods section in which the researchers describe how they have collected and analyzed data.

  • Quantitative and/or qualitative data used to make a claim about the effectiveness of a treatment. 

A review article will take a number of empirical articles, and perform some analysis.
There are a few different types:

  • Literature Reviews give a broad overview of a given topic at a moment in time. 

  • Systematic Reviews are a rigorous review of primary research articles, with explicit inclusion criteria. They're often used in the Health Sciences to gauge the effectiveness of specific interventions. Systematic reviews will discuss their inclusion criteria, search methods, and occasionally their search statement in the article. 

**Remember, you want to focus on finding a related primary research article, NOT a review article...

Reading articles

Scholarly articles often follow a similar format. This makes it easy to hop around the article and gather the most important information. Here are some tips for getting started.

  1. Read the abstract, introduction and methodology
    By reading these sections first, you should be able to identify the objective of the study and how the study was conducted (the method).
  2. Read the discussion and conclusion (at the end)
    The conclusion and discussion will tell you a broad overview of the study findings, but also why those finding are significant.
  3. Read literature review and results
    If the article seems relevant, go ahead and read the rest of the article. From the literature review you will better understand the 'research gap' that this article fills and the details of the study results. Reading the results can take time, especially if the article uses statistical methods.

Things to consider when you are evaluating a primary scholarly articles to use within your own research

  • ls the purpose clear? (Look in the abstract - is it obvious what the research question is?) If you do not know what is being investigated, this could be a weakness.  If it is clear what the purpose of the study is, and what the researcher(s) are investigating, this could be something that you list as a strength.
  • Is the literature review credible, relevant, and current? (eg: are they predominantly citing other scholarly evidence or something else?) If you chose an article that cites predominately news, or other types of non-scholarly literature (websites, blogs, unpublished data) then this could be considered a weakness.  Also, if you choose an article published within the last 7 years, but they are citing 20 year old research, this could also be a weakness. 
  • Is the methodology sound? (Identify the method used.  Is this a valid methodology? Google the method and limitations.  Is the sample size (n) large enough to draw conclusions? Are there any biases to note?) If the researchers are claiming that a large group (eg: undergraduate students) exhibit a specific behaviour, but only have a sample size of 2 people, then a small sample size could be a limitation to any conclusions they draw. 
  • Does the author identify the limitations of their study themselves? (ctrl F limitations!) If they do, do they then also describe alternative approaches or steps to mitigate the limitation (s)? 
  • Are conclusions supported by findings? (Look for sweeping statements not backed by evidence)
  • Are there further directions of inquiry? Do the authors suggest future directions of research? This information is usually found at the end of the discussion or the conclusion (ctrl F future; further).  Run a search using "future studies" or "further research" or future research
    Example: Wortley, S. (2003). Hidden intersections: Research on race, crime, and criminal justice in Canada. Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal35(3), 99-118.
  • Is there a copy of the instrument used attached? Many researchers often append their research instruments in the appendices of their publications.  Search "survey instrument" appendix AND "your topic" to see if there is anything out there you can replicate. Example: 
    Breen, C., Herley, C., & Redmiles, E. M. (2022, April). A large-scale measurement of cybercrime against individuals. In Proceedings of the 2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1-41).


Skim the following articles and report on the methodology of each

Article 1

survey: 3 votes (12%)
focus group: 22 votes (88%)
ethnography: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 25
statistical testing: 10 votes (45.45%)
survey: 11 votes (50%)
interview: 1 votes (4.55%)
Total Votes: 22
content analysis: 11 votes (50%)
literature review: 10 votes (45.45%)
ethnography: 1 votes (4.55%)
Total Votes: 22
thematic analysis: 10 votes (52.63%)
focus group: 9 votes (47.37%)
interview: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 19
Mixed Qualitative: 1 votes (5.88%)
Mixed Quantitative: 8 votes (47.06%)
Mixed Qualitative/Quantitative: 8 votes (47.06%)
Total Votes: 17

Finding sources for your project

scholarly publication contains articles written by experts in a particular field. The primary audience of these articles is other experts. ... Academics use a variety of terms and language to describe this: "peer-reviewed," vetted 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, checking for validity, originality, and quality. 

Scholarly / Peer-Reviewed Popular/Not Scholarly
Author Expert Journalist / Professional Writer
Review Reviewed by an editorial board or other experts ("peers") Reviewed by an editor
Audience /
Scholars and students / Academic
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 
Sources Always cited Sometimes cited

Peer-reviewed articles
Scholarly books
Literature reviews, systematic reviews, and meta-analysis
Thesis and dissertations

Academic encyclopedias

Magazine articles
Newspaper articles
Blog articles
web encyclopedias (wiki)
Social media

  1. What are the author’s credentials? Is it written by an expert?
  2. Published in a journal (is there a DOI?) If you are not sure if it is a journal article enter the title of the publication into Ulrichs Web
  3. Academic language
  4. Includes reference list
  5. Length
  6. A "Received" and "Accepted" date
  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. 

How to find peer-reviewed sources


Using the Library 

There are a few ways to use the library.  

  • Use the library search box/Library Search - allows you to search the entire collection.  
  • Search in subject-specific databases - I have them listed under the articles tab on the GNED  guide.  You will be searching a smaller collection of sources.
  • Search in discipline-specific journals - This type of search will definitely yield fewer results.  It helps to know the publication title to use this feature effectively, but you can also type in a broader topic, as long as that word is contained within the title of the journal  Eg: forensic

Search Smarter!

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

  • Use quotation marks to keep phrases together - "Black Lives Matter"

  • Use  AND to combine search terms - "police violence" AND protester

  • Use OR to connect two or more similar terms - BLM OR "Black Lives Matter"

  • Use wild cards to substitute a letter or suffix with a symbol - demonstr*

Library Search

Things to remember when using Library Search:

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

  2. Use the pin icon to save books and articles. 

  3. Use the filters on the right. You will use Availability, Resource Type, and Date filters most often.

  4. Some items won't be available. You can request unavailable items using interlibrary loan.

  5. When viewing an item record, scroll down to the Get It or Full Text section to get the item.

Search Google Scholar

Google Scholar is another great way to find peer-reviewed/scholarly material. Google Scholar has a nifty citation chaining function.  The Cited by function will forward you to indexed scholarly material that has cited an article that you may be interested in.  The Related Articles link will direct you to similar articles that may have the same metadata or keywords. 

The Advanced Search is found by clicking the menu icon (top left).
Besides providing links to articles 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 the MRU library, links should automatically populate if you are running a Google search in another window. 

What is a literature review?

It describes and evaluates the research that has been done in a particular area of research. 

  • In general, a literature review should be a clear, concise, cohesive, and comprehensive discussion of a narrow, well-defined research question.
  • The goal is usually to identify relationships, contradictions, gaps,  and potential next steps in the research.

What is it for?

  • It gives you ideas for your research topic
  • It helps you understand the big picture and background to your topic so that you can identify where your proposed research fits in the existing body of knowledge.
  • It gives your reader a sense of the sources examined and what research is being drawn upon, and it demonstrates your knowledge of the topic.

Literature reviews should synthesize and compare studies that discuss different aspects of your topic, depending on your purpose (for example, you might compare experimental methods, populations studied, theoretical frameworks, etc.).

Introduction to Literature Reviews - Monash University

How to Read Research Articles - University of Connecticut

The Literature Review - A Few Tips on Conducting it - University of Toronto

For more information about conducting literature reviews, please see the Conducting Literature Reviews guide on the Undergraduate Research page.

Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2023). Research design : qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (Sixth edition.). SAGE.

Lewis-Beck, M. S., Bryman, Alan., & Liao, T. Futing. (2004). The Sage encyclopedia of social science research methods. Sage.

Gideon, Lior. (Ed.). (2012). Handbook of Survey Methodology for the Social Sciences (1st ed. 2012.). Springer New York.

Recommended resources for Qualitative Research

Atkinson, P., & Delamont, S. (2010). SAGE qualitative research methods. SAGE.

Flick, U. (2022). The Sage handbook of qualitative research design (1st ed.). SAGE Publications.

Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. & Saldana, J (2020). Qualitative data analysis: a methods sourcebook. (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications

Wincup, E. (2017). Criminological research : understanding qualitative methods (2nd edition.). SAGE Publications Ltd.

Recommended resources for Quantitative Research

Kaplan, D. (2004). The SAGE handbook of quantitative methodology for the social sciences. SAGE.

Mixed Methods

Creswell, J. W., & Plano Clark, V. L. (2018). Designing and conducting mixed methods research (Third Edition.). SAGE.

Fetters, M. D. (2020). The mixed methods research workbook : activities for designing, implementing, and publishing projects. SAGE Publications, Inc.

Research in Criminology

Mathieu Deflem, D. M. D. S. / M. D. (2019). Methods of Criminology and Criminal Justice Research (1st ed., Vol. 24). Emerald Publishing Limited.

Tartaro, C. (2021). Research methods for criminal justice and criminology : a text and reader. Routledge.


  • Cite Sources: Learn the correct way to cite sources by using these guides, tutorials, and videos.
  • Referencing Webinars: APA & MLA. Referencing Webinars are 75 minutes long.  Registration is required.
  • Online Appointments: Personalized online 30-minute appointments with a Learning Strategist.

New SLS APA Referencing Tutorial on D2L

This self-paced 90-minute tutorial covers the same content as our live workshop—why citation is important along with the basics of in-text citations and reference entries in APA Style. Students who complete the tutorial will gain access to a form they can fill out and submit as proof of completion.

Access the tutorial on D2L: Using Google Chrome as your web browser, log in to D2L ( with your account. Click the “Discover” tab, then type “APA” in the search bar. Click on the “APA Referencing Tutorial” link and then the “Enroll in Course” button. 


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