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Com 395 - Science Writing and Reporting

This is a guide for Roberta Kelly's Communication 395 class.

Peer-Reviewed or Not?

How can I tell if an article is peer-reviewed?

  1. Some online databases, like Academic Search Complete, allow you to limit your search results to scholarly or peer-reviewed journals. Other databases, like Biosis Previews, only cover scholarly journals. You still need to be careful, though, as many peer-reviewed journals also publish book reviews or guest columns that are not peer-reviewed. When in doubt, look for a substantial article (8 pages long or more) with a good works cited list.
     
  2. Look up the journal title (not the article title) online. Very often you will be able to find a section that says "Instructions for authors." This section usual indicates whether articles are reviewed.
     
  3. Consult Ulrich’s International online.

    Once in Ulrich's, change the search from “keyword” to “Title (exact)” and type in the title of your journal. Choose your journal title from the list that shows up from your search, then scroll down the page looking for “Refereed – Yes”

Now that I've found a Peer-Reviewed Research Paper, What do I do?

Published scientific research often uses very specialized language and is written for an audience of researchers. So, how do you tell if the research you found will be useful?

Basic tips:

  1. Look at the Abstract, the Conclusion, and the Introduction of the article. If it looks promising, move on to step 2.
  2. Find the claim or claims the article is making.
  3. Identify the major evidence used to support these claims.
  4. Look to see what the article says about the research's relationship to previous research.

More on how to read a scientific research article:

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