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English 201 - Hughes: Home

Library Research Session - January 30, 2017

Goals for today:

  • Identify and become familiar with subject databases in order to locate relevant articles for your annotated bibliography
  • Construct, evaluate, and modify keyword searches to retrieve relevant results in the databases
  • Read an article record and identify additional search terms through the subject headings and the abstract
  • Identify the elements of a scholarly article in order to recognize scholarly, peer-reviewed materials in the databases
  • Compare your database searches to a Google Scholar search and identify the pros and cons of each in relation to your topic

Some useful databases for your topics....

Which database should you use? Well, this will depend on your topic. In class, we looked at Academic Search Complete, a general interdisciplinary database that covers alot of subject areas - you should be able to find articles there. Remember that if your topic relates to a specific area of research, like economics, literature, psychology, etc. you can go to the "Find Journal articles" tab on the library homepage and then select the "Databases by Subject" dropdown menu. Choose your subject, and a list of recommended databases will appear.

Below are links to some databases that you might find useful, including Academic Search Complete.

These links will take you into SearchIt, the WSU Libraries discovery system, where you will need to click on the link to the database under "Find a Copy Online."

 

Scholarly or Popular journals - what's the difference?

A scholarly journal article undergoes a very different publication process than an article published in a popular journal, such as Newsweek, or Popular Science. If you look at a paper copy or a .pdf of a scholarly journal, there are a few things that you will notice right off the bat:

  • There are few, if any, photos or images other than tables and graphs depicting research results
  • The article employs language, or jargon, specific to the discipline
  • The author has heavily cited their sources; you will find a list of "references," "works cited," or a "bibliography" following the article.
  • The scholarly article may begin with an abstract, or summary
  • There may be information about the author's affiliations or credentials at the beginning of the article, or in a footnote or endnote
  • There may be information on the publishing timeline, including a "date received," "date revised," and "date accepted for publication."
  • The article may be written by one or more collaborating researchers
  • Contains in-depth research and substantive information
  • May provide a literature review  (a summary of research in the area that has already been conducted) early in the article text
  • Has the potential to create discourse among researchers, fostering communication and enriching the scholarly community

After being received by a journal editor, a scholarly article is submitted to other researchers with some expertise in the field.  These  "peer reviewers," will read the article and provide feedback to the editor regarding the merits of the article. The peer reviewers may recommend revisions to the article.  The peer reviewers may point out areas of error, and in some cases, may even suggest that the article not be published at all. Generally, the author will have the opportunity to revise the paper, correcting any ambiguous or misleading information. The peer review process is expected to improve the quality of the article and is really an opportunity for the author to receive feedback and suggestions from other researchers.


A popular journal article is not peer-reviewed. Generally, the article will be subjected to the editor's judgment, but will not be submitted to outside reviewers. Popular articles have the following attributes:

  • Sometimes accompanied by glossy photos or advertising
  • Have little or no references at the end of the article
  • Often offer a good overview of a topic, but do not provide in-depth research
  • May provide the most current information on a given topic

Did I find a scholarly article?

Can't tell whether a journal is scholarly or popular? Try searching for your journal in Ulrichsweb, a database of publisher information on over 300,000 titles.

Just type in the title of the journal in the "Quick search" box, and limit to "title (exact)" or "title (keyword)". Select the correct journal when the results appear. 

If the journal is scholarly, the Document type field will read: "Journal; Academic/Scholarly". If the journal is peer-reviewed, you will see a "Refereed" field which will read "Yes."

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