Scholarly vs. Peer Reviewed Journals

Scholarly vs. Peer Reviewed Journals


Welcome to the Library. In this quick tutorial, we’ll review the difference between scholarly and peer reviewed journals and demonstrate how to limit our search results to these types of publications. We will also demonstrate how to determine if a particular journal is peer reviewed using the Ulrichsweb database. Finally, we will talk briefly about additional characteristics of scholarly journal articles. Scholarly journals disseminate original research and promote academic discussion among professionals and scholars. Generally, these publications provide detailed analysis concentrating on a single discipline or academic field. Scholarly journals are typically published by a professional association or an academic press. Scholarly journals, oftentimes but not always, will be reviewed by peer evaluators who are considered experts in their field. This helps ensure that articles are of high quality and meet the standards established for a given discipline. This peer review process is what designates a particular type of scholarly journal called a peer reviewed journal or a refereed journal. Peer review is used almost exclusively for scholarly journals, although in some circumstances a book or a trade publication might undergo the peer review process. Let’s take a look at how to narrow our search results to scholarly and peer reviewed publications using the Library’s Roadrunner Search. You will immediately notice the Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Journals check box located beneath the search box. Let’s click on Advanced Search in order to locate the same limiter on the Advanced Search screen. Here you will see the Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Journals check box located on the lower right. Checking this box will limit your results to scholarly journal articles, most of which are peer reviewed. However, Roadrunner and EBSCOhost do not make the distinction between scholarly and peer reviewed journal articles in their search results. Therefore, you may retrieve results from journals that are considered scholarly, but do not necessarily use the peer review process. For example, let’s conduct a search for leadership and education and select the Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Journals checkbox. Our results include an article from Integral Leadership Review, a non peer reviewed publication. Therefore, as evident by this search, you cannot assume that all results will be from peer reviewed journals even with the limiter applied. Other databases such as Springerlink, Taylor & Francis, Wiley Online, etcetera include only peer reviewed journals and therefore do not have checkboxes to limit to this type of content. To alleviate any confusion, the Library recommends using the Ulrichsweb database to determine whether or not a particular journal is peer reviewed. You may access Ulrichsweb from the A to Z Databases link on the Library’s homepage. This is the Ulrichsweb basic search screen. Here we can enter the title of the journal we would like to learn more about. Note that we can also enter the publication’s ISSN, International Standard Serial Number, similar to a book’s ISBN. Entering the ISSN may be preferable, especially since some journals have identical or nearly identical titles. In this example, we are looking for the Journal of Marriage and Family. Type in the title and click on the green magnifying glass or hit enter on your keyboard to search. This is the search results screen. Here you are likely to see multiple formats for the same publication title. However, the icon that is common to all formats here is a black and white striped referee shirt. This indicates that your publication is, in fact, peer reviewed. The absence of this icon means that your publication is not peer reviewed. If you are unable to locate your publication title in Ulrichsweb, try to locate the publication’s home page through a Google search. Publishers will want to make it known to readers if their journal is peer reviewed. Therefore, this information should be prominently displayed somewhere on the website, as we see here for the Homeland Security Affairs journal. It is also important to keep in mind that peer reviewed publications often contain non peer reviewed content such as news items, announcements, editorials, letters, and book reviews. Only the original research articles have undergone the peer review process. You will need to determine for yourself whether or not you are reading a book review, for example, versus an actual peer reviewed research study. Some databases may even group articles separately, as shown here in the Wiley Online Library. The peer reviewed, original articles are listed separately from the book reviews. Let’s take a look at some further characteristics of scholarly research studies by navigating to the Research Process page for Academic and Popular Resources. You may access the Research Process from the Research Help drop-down menu on the Library’s homepage. Select the link for Academic, Popular & Trade publications under the drop-down menu Determining Information Needs. Characteristics of scholarly studies may include a reference list, clearly defined research questions, qualitative, quantitative or mixed research methods, sample data gathered from a population, use of a test or measurement to gather data, a literature review, conclusions drawn from study findings, multiple authors, scholarly academic language, a high page count, and, finally, tables and figures. Being able to identify a scholarly research study, knowing how to limit your search results to scholarly and peer reviewed journals, and finally knowing how to determine whether or not a particular journal is peer reviewed will greatly benefit you in your academic research. We hope this tutorial has been helpful. Complete the Scholarly vs. Peer Reviewed Journals Activity to practice what you’ve learned today. Below the YouTube video, click on Show More. Next, click on the activity link. You may also access the activity on the Quick Tutorial Videos page.

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