Redefining the Classroom

Kenneth J. Shouldice Library Help Me!

I need to find a refereed, peer reviewed, scholarly or juried article!

First, what is a scholarly, peer reviewed or refereed journal?

These are all terms used to describe journals that publish academic work. The articles may be screened by other academicians in that discipline, in which case the journal is "peer reviewed." This type of article is where academic people present their research results, and other academics scritinize the concepts and results quite closely. Authors don't say, "I think..." or "We believe... ." Instead they present the question they sought to answer, explain the literature they examined to see if the answer already existed, and then present the research they did to test their idea, the results of that research, and finally the conculsions they drew. It's kind of like a World Series or Superbowl for ideas within a given academic discipline. An idea is only presented once to the academic community, and whoever writes the article proving or disproving a concept, gets "credit" for that discovery. Someone else, who had been working for years and years on the same issue, has to put their work away and work on something else, or at least work to answer a different aspect of the question.

There are a number of ways to go about looking for materials of this quality. First, choose the best database in the given discipline, or the best of the nearest allied databases. Second, choose the most academic of the general databases.

To choose an appropriate subject database, go to the Find Articles and Other Resources page on our website. If you're at home, log in to My.LSSU, and click on the My Library tab. Cursor through the list of databases and other products, to the discipline that covers your topic. The librarians have tried to organize the databases so users will be most successful at finding useful materials, so start at the top of the list in your discipline! Also, don't hesitate to explore the databases under the "more" links. Feel free to ask a librarian to suggest databases for your topic. We've been helping people find information for years!

Different databases offer different search options. Look around the page and drop down menus to see if there is a box to click or a choice to indicate refereed, scholarly, academic or juried materials. Most of our databases have a way to limit the results in one of these ways, but you need to find the box that lets you limit your search in such a way.

In some databases, the database itself is so specialized that the materials within are considered scholarly. Just because a journal is considered scholarly, or any of the other terms listed at the top of the page, doesn't mean that every article fits that criteria. Most journals also publish letters to the editor, book reviews, and other short articles that do not present research findings. You need to evaluate every article that you consider research, to determine if it is a presentation of research, but if you're using an academic database within your subject area, you're likely finding the right materials!

To choose a general academic database, go to either the Find Articles and Other Resources page or the My Library tab of My.LSSU. Click on the General category, and then click on Academic Onefile. Academic Onefile is a large database, covering most topics, with very academic articles. Type your topic in one of the search boxes, and click on Search. If you click on the box that limits your search to full text, you won't have access to all the materials we own. Instead, if it indicates we don't have the item full text, click on the Search for Full Text link (It should be available through all of our databases, though it doesn't work from off campus. (Well, it works, but you have to know your way around various databases. It identifies the database that has the product full text, and you have to get to that database through your My.LSSU account.) Most of the material you will find will be from research journals. To identify research articles, look for longer articles. They will follow the format described above (present the question, survey the literature, present the research methods, present the findings, and then draw conclusions and suggest further research). The articles will usually be accompanied by graphs, charts and tables, rather than pictures.

If you can't figure out which database to search, visit the library and ask a librarian, or ask a librarian through the Ask a Librarian link. We usually answer the Ask a Librarian questions within 24 hours, at least during the work week. Make sure you include your e-mail address so we can answer your question!