Peer reviewed required: The role of bibliographic requirements in the undergraduate research assignment
Hale, Trenton Davis
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This study explored what impact requiring the use of peer-reviewed articles for an undergraduate research assignment had on the makeup of students’ bibliographies and how they integrated their information sources. Utilizing a nonequivalent control group design, unit essays were collected from two sections of the same undergraduate political science course at a public university in Texas. The experimental group was required to use a minimum number of peer-reviewed sources while the control group was not. A sample of 44 documents was collected. The collected essays underwent citation analysis and content analysis to investigate potential differences in bibliographic behavior and how students engage with their sources within the body of their essays. The citation analysis revealed that the students who were required to include peer-reviewed sources did cite significantly more peer-reviewed articles than the control group. They also referred to their peer-reviewed sources more frequently in the body of their essays than the students in the control group referred to their peer-reviewed sources. The content analysis, however, revealed that synthesis of and engagement with outside information sources was similarly infrequent and homogeneous in both groups, which suggests deeper information literacy challenges faced by the students.