Joining the (Scholarly) Conversation from Clemson University
Scholarship is a conversation. It is a social process. Human knowledge advances and grows as people participate in an ongoing exchange of ideas, insights, and discoveries that build on (or tear down) what came before. Joining the conversation involves the ability to identify key ideas in information sources, then combine, or synthesize, those key ideas into your own work, always giving credit to the creators of those sources through citations.
Researchers/scholars are part of a community. That community may be biologists, or a marine biologists, or a carcinologists (people who study crabs and other crustaceans). Common interests bring these communities together. Member exchange thoughts, ideas, and information both formally and informally by means that may be unique to their discipline.
Formal communications may take the form of books, journal articles, and conference presentations. Informal communications could be conversations with colleagues in the hall, email exchanges, telephone calls, and posts to websites.
By doing research you will uncover the foundational ideas that built these communities. You will learn what the current thinking is, and learn who the important figures are in this community. You will be building your basic knowledge and learning specific facts and information that will allow you to understand the conversations that are taking place. As your research continues and you begin to synthesize ideas into new thoughts and ideas, you will be entering into the conversation and joining the scholarly community.