Peer (-Reviewed) Pressure! Pt. 2

 Since you read part one of this post last week (right?), you know how to get to the UGL’s list of recommended databases so that you can begin searching for articles on your research topic.

This week, we want to give you a little insight into how to tell if an article is actually peer-reviewed. Not all articles available through library databases are peer-reviewed, scholarly articles, so it is important to look carefully at the articles you find  to determine if they meet the requirements for your research. Databases include articles from popular periodicals (like Time magazine), scholarly journals, and trade periodicals (like Parks & Recreation – not the TV show!). This graphic gives you an idea of what library databases include:

The graph outlines that both scholarly and non-scholarly content is available, as well as popular and trade materials.

Note the giant star on the scholarly articles!

In many databases, you can actually limit your search so that you just retrieve articles from scholarly journals:

in EBSCO databases, search limiters are on the left-hand side of the screen.

Check the box “Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals” to limit to articles from scholarly journals in an EBSCO database. Click “Update” to apply the limit.

This limit is not foolproof! Why? Because not all works published in scholarly journals are actually “peer-reviewed articles.” Here’s the reason: scholarly journals also publish things like book reviews, editorials, and news releases. These are NOT what your professors mean when they say “peer-reviewed articles.” The scholarly articles your professor wants you to use present original research, usually in a longer format, often including graphics such as charts and tables, and always including citations for all material presented.

SO: even if you limit your search to just find articles from peer-reviewed journals, you still need to examine the article citation, abstract, and even some of the full text, to determine if it’s actually a scholarly, peer-reviewed article. Answer questions such as these for every resource you want to use: Are the authors’ credentials included? Do they cite sources? Are their conclusions based on evidence (and do they provide this evidence)?

The UGL has also created several web pages to assist you with evaluating sources!

Is it scholarly? Tips for critically evaluating your information resources: This page gives you criteria you can use to analyze the sources you find. Use the criteria found on this page when trying to determine whether or not an article you find is actually a peer-reviewed article and not simply a news release or editorial found in a scholarly journal.

Is it scholarly? Distinguishing periodical types: Here you will find criteria on how to tell the difference between scholarly articles and those from trade periodicals (written for and by people in a particular profession) and popular periodicals (such as People and GQ).

Remember: you may find articles from all types of periodicals (magazines, newspapers, journals) when you search in a database. It is important to evaluate what you see so you know if it works for your assignment!




Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit

Peer (-Reviewed) Pressure! Pt. 1

You know this has happened to you more than once (or, if it hasn’t, you can bet that it’s coming): your professor gives you an assignment that involves finding peer-reviewed articles. Upon hearing those words you catch your breath, sink a little lower in your seat, and open your calendar to block off Saturday and Sunday with the words: “@ the LIBRARY :(“.

Fear not! Finding scholarly, peer-reviewed articles as part of your research process is actually not quite as dreadful as it might sound. At the UGL, we have created several resources to make your research process a lot easier. Last week, we featured our Subject Guides, research guides created around specific topics, and this week we want to introduce some of the basics on where to go to find peer-reviewed articles.

First: what does “peer-reviewed” mean? We often use the terms “peer-reviewed” and “scholarly” interchangeably. Peer-reviewed articles are (typically) long, research articles published in scholarly journals. They are called peer-reviewed because when they are submitted for publication, a committee of experts in the author’s field reviews the research to determine if it is worthy of publication.  The information in scholarly, peer-reviewed articles is authoritative and credible–that review process helps to make sure of it.

Make sense? OK, on to finding them. Scholarly articles come from scholarly research journals, which are easily accessible from library databases. The best place to start when looking for peer-reviewed articles from databases in most disciplines (in our humble opinion) is the UGL’s Find Articles Guide

To get there, go the UGL’s home page and look for the ‘Find Articles’ button underneath the Easy Search box (see image above). Click on it – you want to ‘find articles,’ right?

There are also links to the catalog and course reserves.

 Then you’ll arrive at the following page:

screenshot of find articles guide

Our Find Articles Guide is organized by subject area. We give you a basic list of the central databases in each field as a general starting point for most research.

Library databases come in many forms: some are general, like Academic Search Premier and Academic OneFile, which means that they include all kinds of research in all kinds of fields, from sources ranging from scholarly journals to popular magazines. These general databases are great starting points (see above!) for research on any topic.

Other databases are more subject-specific. That is why our Find Articles page is organized by discipline or subject area. Sometimes, it’s obvious which subject area to look under to find the appropriate research: if you’re searching for peer-reviewed articles for a business class, you’d probably want to turn to the databases listed under the Business heading.

Sometimes, though, it’s a little less clear. Some research topics are inter-disciplinary. For example: say you’re doing research for a communications class that involves talking about health and wellness issues. You will probably need to look for articles in databases from both the Communication and Medicine and Health disciplines–both of which are listed on the Find Articles page.

While all of these databases–except for CQ Researcher and those listed under the “Newspapers” heading–include peer-reviewed articles, that is not all they offer. You need to do some legwork to determine if the articles you find are peer-reviewed.

Be sure to check out Peer (-Reviewed) Pressure Part Two next week to learn more about how to determine if an article in a database is actually a scholarly, peer-reviewed article.

As always feel free to leave a comment or question! Or Ask-a-Librarian.

Twitter Linkedin Digg Delicious Email Tumblr Reddit