Types of scholarly literature
You will encounter many types of articles and it is important to distinguish between these different categories of scholarly literature. Keep in mind the following definitions.
Peer-reviewed (or refereed): Refers to articles that have undergone a rigorous review process, often including revisions to the original manuscript, by peers in their discipline, before publication in a scholarly journal. This can include empirical studies, review articles, meta-analyses among others.
Empirical study (or primary article): An empirical study is one that aims to gain new knowledge on a topic through direct or indirect observation and research. These include quantitative or qualitative data and analysis. In science, an empirical article will often include the following sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion.
Review article: In the scientific literature, this is a type of article that provides a synthesis of existing research on a particular topic. These are useful when you want to get an idea of a body of research that you are not yet familiar with. It differs from a systematic review in that it does not aim to capture ALL of the research on a particular topic.
Systematic review: This is a methodical and thorough literature review focused on a particular research question. It's aim is to identify and synthesize all of the scholarly research on a particular topic in an unbiased, reproducible way to provide evidence for practice and policy-making. It may involve a meta-analysis (see below).
Meta-analysis: This is a type of research study that combines or contrasts data from different independent studies in a new analysis in order to strengthen the understanding of a particular topic. There are many methods, some complex, applied to performing this type of analysis.
High Impact Journals: Environmental & Agricultural Engineering
Here are the top 25 journals in Environmental and Agricultural Engineering, based on 2017's impact factor:
- Applied Catalysis B-Environmental
- Water Research
- Chemical Engineering Journal
- Environmental Science and Technology
- Journal of Hazardous Materials
- Environmental Science & Technology Letters
- Bioresource Technology
- Journal of Cleaner Production
- Resources, Conservation, and Recycling
- Waste Management
- Building and Environment
- Indoor Air
- Journal of Industrial Ecology
- International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
- Environmental Modelling and Software
- International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
- Industrial Crops and Products
- Environmental Science-Water Research & Technology
- Process Safety and Environmental Protection
- Biomass & Bioenergy
- Environmental Chemistry Letters
- Ecological Engineering
- Environmental Geochemistry and Health
- Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment
How to read a scientific paper
Suggested steps from Ramey, D. W. (1999). How to read a scientific paper. In AAEP Proc (Vol. 45, pp. 280-4).
- Step 1: Abstract. Ask "Is this article relevant enough to proceed to the full text, or should I move on to another article?"
- Step 2: Discussion. Ask "What are the researchers' findings?"
- Step 3: Introduction. Ask "Why did the researchers do this study?" and "Does the research question match up with the conclusions I read in Step 2?"
- Step 4: Results. Ask "Are the data collected appropriate to answer the research question?" and "Do the data support the conclusions?"
- Step 5: Methods (optional). Ask "How can I repeat this study?" and "Are these methods suitable to gather the results reported?"