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The Role of Research in Higher Education

The Role of Research in Higher Education

Author: Alison DeRudder
Description:

Describe the role of research in higher education.

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Tutorial

Tutorial Audio

what's covered
This tutorial explores the significance of research in higher education. Here is a list of what’s covered:
  1. The Role of Research in Higher Education
  2. The Value of Peer-Reviewed Publications
  3. The Value of Books, Periodicals, Multimedia, and Primary Research


1. The Role of Research in Higher Education

Research plays a significant role in higher education, and you will probably be asked to do some form of research in the majority of your courses. Basically, conducting research involves seeking out sources of information on a given topic and incorporating those sources in your own work.

The purpose of academic research is twofold.

  1. By conducting research on a certain topic you are collecting data that gives you a more informed perspective. Most often this entails finding out what scholars—those who are considered experts in their academic field—have to say about your topic.
  2. When conducting academic research, you want to determine and articulate what you think about the topic after consulting the relevant scholarship. Your job is to engage with the experts in the field and contribute to the ongoing scholarly conversation.

big idea
Academic sources can be separated into two categories:

  • Primary sources: An original “firsthand” work, like a novel, a film, a scientific study, a philosophical treatise, a religious text, etc.
  • Secondary sources: A work that discusses or interprets a primary source—for instance, a scholarly essay about a novel, a film, a scientific study, a philosophical treatise, or a religious text.


2. The Value of Peer-Reviewed Publications

One of the most common types of sources you will encounter in your academic research is the scholarly journal. Scholarly journals have titles that tend to plainly indicate their subject, like Journal of Abnormal Psychology or The Linguistic Review.

Like a popular magazine, a scholarly journal is a periodical comprised of articles written by different authors. Unlike a popular magazine, a scholarly journal is not intended for wide circulation or a general audience. The articles in scholarly journals are written by experts and for experts, or at least aspiring experts. Therefore, the language is academic and can be dense and difficult.

Also, scholarly journals are peer-reviewed publications, meaning the articles that are published in the journal have been scrutinized and approved by experts in the field. This is important to you, the college student writing a research paper, because the peer-review process authenticates a given article as a credible scholarly source.

term to know
Peer-Reviewed Publications
A peer-reviewed publication is a journal or text on a particular subject that is written by experts in that field of study and evaluated by experts in that field of study. The language in peer-reviewed publications is highly specific to the subject because the audiences for the writing are also experts. Peer-reviewed publications are usually considered credible sources for use in higher education papers and projects.


3. The Value of Books, Periodicals, Multimedia, and Primary Research

While scholarly journals provide excellent sources for academic research, they are by no means your only option. First of all, there may be entire scholarly books dedicated to your research topic. While the best place to find academic books is still the actual library, the virtual library of the internet is constantly expanding, and you may be able to find entire books or portions of them online.

A periodical is anything published at regular intervals so, in addition to scholarly journals, magazines and newspapers are periodicals. While something like The New York Times or National Geographic may not count as an “academic” or “scholarly” source, they may also be useful to you depending on the assignment.

You are not limited to print material, either. An audio recording, a television broadcast, or a YouTube video can all be valuable sources in the appropriate circumstances. Finally, specific assignments may allow or even call for primary research, meaning you conduct your own interviews or devise and disseminate your own surveys.

summary
Research projects in higher education are often assigned. Peer-reviewed publications are highly valued sources in higher education because they are created and selected by the experts. Other books, periodicals, multimedia, and primary research are additional sources you may consult, depending on the topic.
Terms to Know
Peer-Reviewed Publications

A peer-reviewed publication is a journal or text on a particular subject that is written by experts in that field of study and evaluated by experts in that field of study. The language in peer-reviewed publications is highly specific to the subject because the audiences for the writing are also experts. Peer-reviewed publications are usually considered credible sources for use in higher education papers and projects.