Main Sources of Scientific and Professional Knowledge
Scientific knowledge is disseminated primarily through peer-reviewed scientific journals, also called academic or research journals. Each field has its own recognized scientific journals, where the most prestigious authors prefer to publish. Submissions to such journals are selected for publications through a blind review process based on systematic criteria that are public domain.
Another source of scientific knowledge are academic publishers that specialize in textbooks, collective volumes edited by prestigious experts (often senior graduate faculty with substantial research and publication experience), and treatises on major topics authored by the top experts in the field. All major publishers have their manuscripts reviewed by prestigious experts in their field.
A third source of scientific knowledge includes papers presented at academic conferences. Like journal articles, conference papers are selected through a peer-review process. The difference between the peer-review systems of academic journals and academic conferences is that the former has a relatively stable and prestigious review team that ensures consistency across time and enforces agreed-upon high standards, whereas the latter relies on scarce, occasional volunteers who pick the targeted number of best available papers out of the pool of submissions. Consequently, there is no guarantee about the scientific quality of conference papers. This explains why conferences have become springboards or first stops for researchers whose final destination is an academic journal. The conference reviewers’ feedback and the questions asked during the discussion following the presentation of a paper are used by authors to prepare their articles for submission to the appropriate journals.
A fourth source of scientific information includes theses and dissertations, which most often rely entirely on scientific sources. The research findings they present have to be scrutinized very carefully for limitations and possible flaws, because the only scholarly reviewers of each thesis or dissertation are the members of the author’s committee. The quality of the knowledge contained within a thesis or dissertation depends not only on the pooled expertise of committee members, but also on the quality standards of the university that granted the degree. Considering the variability of standards across universities, the findings of graduate research presented in theses and dissertations ought to be used with great caution.
In addition to the layered sources of scientific knowledge, each field has a growing amount of sources of professional knowledge, which disseminates that knowledge in a variety of formats and, generally, has fewer requirements and a more flexible selection criterion. The preferred format is the professional journal. Authors’ access to professional publications is governed by factors such as the prestige of the author and/or the organizations they represent, the urgency and importance of the issue to the target audience, the scope and dollar value of potential practical applications of information contained in the material, and the engaging quality of the material (e.g., comprehensibility, human interest, entertainment). Scientific quality rarely comes into play as a selection criterion.
So What Does All of This Mean to Me?
As a graduate student, you will use scientific and professional knowledge you gain through research in academic and professional journals to:
· Support your communication efforts (writing assignments, discussion question responses, etc.) to express your understanding and achievement of course learning objectives
· Demonstrate mastery of knowledge in your field
To successfully research academic and professional journals, you must learn to navigate the GCU Library. Access to the GCU Library is found under the “Resources” tab within your LoudCloud classroom. For more information on how to successfully navigate the GCU Library, complete the “Library Walk Through” tutorial.
Review the resources posted by the Library for your program.
Conduct a keyword search using one of the Library databases or ask a librarian for assistance.
When you locate a relevant and appropriate resource, an effective way to locate additional resources is to look in the resource section of the resource you found. There, you will find references the author used to support their writing. You may ask, “How do I know if the resource is an appropriate source for use in my writing?” Visit the Cornell University Library for a review of how to critically analyze information sources. Also, complete the “Evaluating Websites” tutorial, located in the GCU Library.
Academic integrity is a vital component to be a successful scholar, particularly regarding the use of academic resources. The following explanation of what academic integrity means at GCU, was taken from the GCU website:
Academic integrity is at the heart of GCU’s values and is integral to our university community. According to the Center for Academic Integrity, there are five fundamental values that are center to academic integrity: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. Students who utilize the work of others without proper citation or reference are in violation of these values, and are committing academic dishonesty. Such dishonesty not only discredits the student who is plagiarizing the work of another, but also the university community as a whole. At GCU, we encourage students to develop practices that support academic integrity, such as independent learning, developing study skills such as note-taking and time-management, and respecting the ideas of others by utilizing proper citations and references. It is the responsibility of all GCU students to be familiar with the specific policies pertaining to student conduct and academic integrity that are outlined in the University Policy Handbook.
All students are expected to demonstrate a high standard of conduct and academic integrity in the classroom. Visit the GCU website to review Academic Integrity in the University Policy Handbook, as well as policy violation examples of academic dishonesty.
The instructor determines the in-class penalty for academic dishonesty. An in-class penalty may include, but is not limited to, rewriting the assignment or paper with or without point deductions, or awarding no or limited points for a specific assignment or paper. The instructor may request a University-level penalty, which may include, but is not limited to, awarding a failing grade for the course, removing a student from class, academic suspension, or academic expulsion from the University. An instructor may not prevent a student from attending or completing a course, as this would be a University-level decision. One of the most significant examples of academic dishonesty is plagiarism.