Learning to Read the Field

As a department or program, think about how and when students learn how the literature of the disciplines works.

  • Strategies for reading the literature: have a department/program discussion about how and when students learn how to parse scholarly texts. Include how to skim, how to recognize the disciplinary standards for presenting research (how the discipline typically organizes a published text), and how to express the main point. Perhaps consider using hypothes.is or another annotation tool to demonstrate and engage students in these processes with an assigned text. Give students an opportunity to compare how texts in your field are different from texts in other disciplines encountered in other courses.
  • Bibliographic trace: it is not obvious to students that references reveal networks of thought or a map of disciplinary conversations. Have students track down sources cited in a course reading or example text. Then have students see who has cited that reading since using Google Scholar. Ask them to report on or write a quick analysis of how the course reading used its sources and how other sources have used it since.
  • Analyze a literature review: disciplines show how research fits into disciplinary networks in different ways. Choose a course reading and have students draw a concept map or create an outline of the main ideas presented in the literature review and how it is organized to prepare readers for the new findings. For disciplines that do not typically have literature reviews as a distinct section of scholarly texts, choose a text and analyze together how the author uses sources as either a foundation for new ideas, as material being refuted, or as evidence supporting an argument. If it seems useful, apply or adapt Bizup’s BEAM method to discuss the different function of sources.