Chapter 10: Joining the Conversation: Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, and You
You’ll notice that our concepts range from the specific to the vague. Such search terms may seem contradictory to all the advice we have been giving so far about focus and specificity. What is important to understand when looking for scholarly sources that support our primary example is that this search often goes in the opposite direction from focus and specificity. It is highly unlikely that we are going to find a scholarly source on the Occupy Wall Street Facebook post “#ferguson2palestine: October 21 @ 7PM – JOIN US!” and such an article is not what we are looking for anyway, so it would not help us to plug the words from that post into a search engine when searching for scholarly articles. You will notice we use the asterisk truncation feature in our search “Occupy Wall Street AND Fail*.” This will widen the net to find variations of fail like failing, failings, failure, and failures.
We are looking for sources that represent the larger discussion we are entering. We are looking to ways to join that larger discussion using our primary example. We are looking for articles that question whether social media is a facilitator of online communities or an incubator for insularity. So we will type these broader terms into various search engines with the goal of finding articles that deal with similar subjects—articles we can use to elevate the examination of our example. We will then use the specifics of the smaller social world of our chosen post to challenge the scholarly discussion we have discovered.