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Academic Disciplines
When groups of scholars share a cluster of interests, methods of study, and norms of communication, we say that they participate in a discipline. Dialogue in each discipline is based on types of evidence and methods of analysis that scholars in that discipline privilege.
 
In order for your research to contribute to the dialog of a community of scholars you should observe several standards.
Focus on issues appropriate to your discipline
  • Philosophy: truth, knowledge, wisdom, reality
  • Sociology: demographics, families, class structure, ethnicity
Use methods appropriate to your discipline
  • English: parsing texts, literary analysis
  • Physics: empirical observation, mathematical theorems
Use technical terms appropriate to your discipline
  • Economics: econometrics, game theory, fiscal policy
  • Psychology: personality, behavioral, cognitive
Use the standards of your discipline to determine which resources are acceptable
  • Most scholarly communities privilege primary resources and scholarly secondary resources (scholarly journals and scholarly books, for example) and frown on the use of popular resources such as magazines and newspapers (unless they are being used as primary resources).
  • Scholarly communities expect scholarly communications to build on the work of other scholars in the community and expect that those scholars will used the methods standard to that discipline.
Use the channels of communication standard for that discipline
  • Philosophy: Journal of Philosophy, Review of Metaphysics, books published by credentialed philosophers.
Starting points
The discipline of the community for which you are writing is normally the subject in which the course that you are writing for is listed.
A list of scholarly resources divided by subject is available. Click on the relevant subjects to find resources that were written for the academic community for which you are writing.
If your research is multidisciplinary or you are unsure of which discipline is most appropriate, try using a multidisciplinary database such as Ebsco Megafile.
Look at articles published for the discipline in which you are writing to get a sense of how scholars in that field write and argue.
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