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MUS 135 - Intro to Music Education

This guide aims to provide resources supporting the Intro to Music Education class and assignments.

Characteristics of a Scholarly (Peer Reviewed, Refereed) Article

  1. Title may/may not indicate scholarship with words in title such as “journal” or “review.”
  2. Main purpose is original research.
  3. Will nearly always have an abstract (descriptive summary of the research) written by the author.
  4. Language of the article assumes technical background knowledge.
  5. Author is usually a scholar or researcher.  Often affiliated with an academic community which may/may not be mentioned as part of the record.
  6. May contain graphics, illustrations, charts, etc. as supporting evidence.
  7. Article has been evaluated by “peers” – other experts in the field who agree that the research meets standards and is original and adds to the scholarly conversation.
  8. The length of the article is usually more than 4-5 pages.
  9. There is a method of study that is generally acceptable within the discipline of study.  Frequently the methodology is mentioned in the abstract.
  10. A scholarly article will always have a list of references used (footnotes and bibliography.)
  11. Reputable scholarly articles will not rely on websites, news sources, but will uses previous scholarly research.

Advanced Kinds of Search Strategies

There are four kinds of searching options. Good searchers are aware of each one and when and how to use them interchangeably or based on the database requirements.

1. Simple word strings. I call this building-block searching. 

2. Boolean searching.  See a more detailed description on this page.

3. Natural language to subject headings and sub-headings. You must use subject headings or at least be aware of them when using PubMed and Medline. 

4. Citation Pearl Growing. Finding a good article or source with a current and useful bibliography may lead you to the kinds of articles you need. Note the importance of finding the primary authors who are doing research in your field. Pay special attention to locating a literature review on your topic Literature review articles cover the current literature in one central location.

Accomplished and skilled researchers are able to determine basic aspects of database organization using multiple strategies. Good researchers understand the usefulness of bakground information, bibliographies and are conversant with the vocabulary of the discipline. Good researchers are familiar with a wide variety of tools and use them wisely, not dependent on one specific source.

What is a DOI number and why does it matter?

DOI=digital object identifier

It is a permanent identifier that will take you straight to a document no matter where it’s located on the Internet. When available they are usually part of the citation or on the main or first page of an article.

Before you begin looking for a DOI for your article you should know:  

1. Not all articles have a DOI number. While the majority of articles published today do have DOI numbers, most older articles -more than two years old-- do not. Some publishers are adding DOIs to older articles. 

2.. While some library databases provide the DOI number as part of the article's citation, this is not consistent across databases. 

When you have a DOI number you can use a DOI locator to link you to the article (sometimes in full text or sometimes just the citation.)

DOI Locators:



3. Here are some basic guidelines from APA Publication Manual (6th edition) for citing electronic sources.

  • For print or electronic journals, include the issue number only when the journal is paginated separately by issue.
  • The retrieval date and database information are not needed for articles retrieved from online sources. Instead, include the article's DOI.
  • If there is no DOI, provide the URL for the journal homepage as the second choice. The retrieval date is not required in this type of reference.
  • In the rare instances that the journal does not have its own homepage (such as for older journals no longer in print but converted to online documents), provide (a) the database homepage or (b) the name of the database and the accession number.
  • A retrieval date is only needed in the reference list for nonjournal instances where material might change at a later date.
  • For online newspaper and magazine articles you need not provide the specific page number, retrieval date, or exact article URL. You would provide only the periodical's home page.


A Place to Start: suggestions

Step 1:  Develop a research question. Be as specific as possible. 

Step 2: Highlight or list key words within the body of the question. 

Here is an example:  What are some classroom management techniques for choral directing in high school

Research Strategies: Boolean

1. Start with the words that are familiar to you. If your research topic is:  Strategies for classroom management in choral teaching in high schools  your possible search terms might be:


Each of these terms is entered into one of the search boxes on the database search screen.

     classroom management    
AND  high school
AND     chorus or choral 

But this search may not and probably will not yield the best results. There are two things you can do to make your search more precise: determine additional synonyms or related terms. Often these are more specific and use the language of the profession. You can add these additional terms and join them in the same subject line.

You should know that there are three Boolean operators:

AND--each of the words or terms must be in the record, AND reduces the number of results.

OR--increases the size of the set you are searching.

NOT--excludes a particular word or concept from the search. 


Evaluating Information: CARS


--Information is from a trustworthy source.

--The author's credentials are available.

--The author or organization is a known or respected authority.


--The information is up to date, truthful, with sufficient detail.

--The audience and purpose reflects attempt to be complete and accurate.


--The author attempts fair, balanced, objective, reasoned,

--There is an absence of fallacy

--There is no apparent slant or biased tone.


--This item lists sources used and is well documented.

--Contact information is supplied,

--Information can be substantiated or corroborated; claims are  supported with evidence.

CARS criteria developed by Robert Harris, Vanguard University