For this section, I am going to focus on just two types of information - Professional and Scholarly. This is because these are the categories most likely to be unfamiliar to you and those that you will need to become familiar with for college-level research. Remember these from the last page? That's ok, I'll repeat the main points below!
Professional/Trade – Professional magazine articles (such as Plastic Surgical Nursing and Music Teacher) are meant for people in a particular profession, and are often accessible through a professional organization. Staff writers or other professionals in the targeted field write these articles at a level and with the language to be understood by everyone in the profession.
Additionally, they are:
Scholarly – Scholarly journal articles (such as Plant Science and Education and Child Psychology) are meant for scholars, students, and the general public who want a deep understanding of a problem or issue. Researchers and scholars write these articles to present new knowledge and further understanding of their field of study.
Additionally, they are:
The most-respected scholarly journals are peer-reviewed, which means that experts in their field other than the author and editor check out each article before it can be published. It’s their responsibility to help guarantee that new material is presented in the context of what is already known, that the methods the researcher used are the right ones, and that the article contributes to the field.
For those reasons, peer-reviewed articles are more likely to be credible. Peer-reviewed journal articles are the official scholarly record, which means that if it’s an important development in research, it will probably turn up in a journal article eventually.
Here‘s a longer explanation of the peer review process, which concludes that it is good but not perfect.
The articles you use for your assignments must also be relevant to your research question—not just credible. Reading specific parts of an article can help save you time as you decide whether an article is relevant.
Reading a scholarly article usually takes some effort. Here’s how to do it.
ACTIVITY: Parts of a Scholarly Article
Most scholarly articles are housed in specialized databases. Libraries (public, school, or company) often provide access to scholarly databases by paying a subscription fee for patrons. For instance, the HCC Libraries provide access to hundreds of databases via its A-Z Database list that are made available free to people affiliated with the system. You can search for a journal title in these databases or view a list of databases by subject. For more information, including how to search databases, see Specialized Databases.
Databases that aren’t subject-specific are called general databases. Google Scholar is a free general scholarly database available to all who have access to the Internet, and it provides some scholarly articles. For more information, see our section on using Google Scholar.
What if you have a citation for an article you need and now have to find the actual text of the article? Try using our Journal and Article Finder tools.
University of California at Berkeley (n.d.). Scrutinizing science: Peer review [digital image]. Understanding Science. Retrieved from http://undsci.berkeley.edu/
©2022 Houston Community College Libraries