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Research Guides

Research 101: Scholarship as Conversation

This guide contains modules focused on introducing students to academic research

Scholarship as Conversation



1. Provide students with a list of 3-5 sources from different perspectives that shape the conversation surrounding a topic of interest.


Example sources: a news article, a tweet from a reputable source, a scholarly article & a literature review.



  • What perspectives are presented?
  • Who has the strongest voice in this conversation? Why?
  • How would you involve yourself in this conversation?


2. Ask students to conduct an investigation of a particular topic from its treatment in the popular media, and then trace its origin in conversations among scholars and researchers. How have perspectives changed and why? 

       Example sources: news articles, tweets from reputable sources, magazine articles, blog entries, bestselling novels.



Welcome to Research 101: Scholarship is a conversation 

Published articles and dissertations form a discussion that involves critiques, arguments, and additions to our understanding of the world.  But wait...What does that mean? Well, you know when you’re at a party and there are a lot of different conversations going on at once…

In one corner, people might be discussing climate change and pollution. On the other side of the room, some people are talking about the new electric car technology. You have heard both of these conversations and begin a new conversation that discusses the impact of technology in reducing pollution.

This is what the scholarly conversation is, it’s multiple people writing and publishing their ideas and hoping that others will pick up and use this information to form new conversations. Now this party is really huge. There are a lot of conversations happening at once and not everyone agrees.

In all of these situations, you’re just hearing a part of the story from just a few voices. Any given piece of scholarly work does not represent the only, or even the majority, perspective on the issue at hand. A single source represents just the view and research of that author. Additionally, you’re entering the middle of the conversation -- certainly not the end.  When you’re conducting research as a student, it isn’t possible to read every article on a certain topic. However, you should read some articles to get a sense of the context for the research related to your topic.

As you research, it’s necessary to evaluate the work of others -- but also try to see yourself as a producer and as a consumer of information.  As a student you can contribute to the scholarly conversation.



Scholarship is like a conversation where ideas are created, debated, and weighed against one another over time. Information users and creators come together to discuss meaning, with the effective researcher adding his or her voice to the conversation.

Learning goals:

  • Recognize that a given scholarly work may not represent the only, or even the majority, perspective on the issue at hand.
  • Understand that students are entering the middle of the scholarly conversation, not the end.
  • Critically evaluate contributions made by others and see self as a producer as well as consumer, of information.


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