Many of your assignments in university require you to find scholarly, or peer-reviewed resources to inform and cite in your own work. This library guide will help you understand the value of peer-reviewed resources as well as how to identify them.
Most scholarly journals are peer reviewed or refereed. This refers to a process in which submitted articles undergo rigorous evaluation by a group of academics or researchers whose knowledge and credentials are similar to those of the author, hence the author's 'peers'.
The reviewers send their recommendations on to the journal's editors. Articles ultimately approved for publication have gone through this refereed process and when published, further the knowledge in a given discipline.
Encore allows you to limit your search to peer-reviewed or scholarly publications, excluding the popular material. If you need to use scholarly resources for your research paper, checking this box will help limit the results to journal titles that are considered scholarly. Many (but not all!) of the detailed records in Encore also identify whether or not the article record you're looking at is peer-reviewed.
Here is a great video that will help you better understand the peer review process:
So why are your professors requiring you to find peer-reviewed articles as resources for your papers and projects? The most important reason is that the quality of the information is held to a much higher standard in a peer-reviewed journal. The reputation of the journal, the reviewers, and the author(s) is at stake here. Every peer-reviewed journal only wants to publish the best work in their field.
You can also think of it in another way. When you leave university and go into your respective career, you'll also be expected to produce the best work, and to inform that work with relevant, reliable research. Depending on your field, you may or may not use peer-reviewed resources in your future career, but using them now means that you will have the knowledge to find them, and to identify common language that may signal other resources as good or problematic. Your employers will expect good problem-solving and critical thinking skills from you, so a lot of what you learn from locating and using peer-reviewed journal articles can carry over into how you understand the work you do on a daily basis.
Time changes everything. Did you watch the video linked to above? If you did, you know that one of the biggest problems with peer-reviewed journals is time. It takes time to write a peer-reviewed article and more time for it to be accepted and published. Many fields of study often change very quickly, so something written just a few years ago could already be out-of-date, although it is peer-reviewed. This doesn't mean these older articles aren't relevant. They can help you paint a picture of research over time and older articles may be paramount in understanding the way research has evolved. We can say this about ALL of our resources for assignments though, so make sure you have a good understanding of the timeline of what you're studying and what may be the best and most relevant to your own assignment. Your professors can help you understand this balance for your own work. Don't be afraid to ask for their advice.
The purpose of scholarly journals is to inform other scholars of research findings. Some knowledge of the subject terminology is required.
Interested in more information about peer-reviewed articles? Check out our library guide: "How to Get the Most from Peer-Reviewed Articles"
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The main purpose is to provide information to a broad audience. No prior subject knowledge is necessary.
Trade journals examine news, trends, and issues for a specific business, industry or organization.
These magazines are designed to entertain, sell products, give practical information, and/or to promote a viewpoint.
Commentary and Opinion Journals examine social or political issues.
Thank you to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who allowed us to use and adapt their library guide "Scholarly vs. Popular Resources" for use here.