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BEE 3299: Sustainable Development: Types of Sources

Definitions

DEFINITIONS:

Scholarly or peer-reviewed journal articles are written by scholars or professionals who are experts in their fields. In the sciences and social sciences, they often publish research results.

Substantive news articles are reliable sources of information on events and issues of public concern.

Popular articles reflect the tastes of the general public and are often meant as entertainment.

Sensational intend to arouse strong curiosity, interest, or reaction. They are not factually accurate.

Keeping these definitions in mind, and realizing that none of the lines drawn between types of journals can ever be totally clear cut, the general criteria are as follows.

How Can I Tell if It's Peer-Reviewed

There are a couple of ways you can tell if a journal is peer-reviewed:

  • If it's online, go to the journal home page and check under About This Journal. Often the brief description of the journal will note that it is peer-reviewed or refereed or will list the Editors or Editorial Board.
  • Go to the database Ulrich's and do a Title Keyword search for the journal. If it is peer-reviewed or refereed, the title will have a little umpire shirt symbol by it.
  • BE CAREFUL! A journal can be refereed/peer-reviewed and still have non-peer-reviewed articles in it. Generally if the article is an editorial, brief news item or short communication, it's not been through the full peer-reviewprocess. Databases like Web of Knowledge will let you restrict your search only to articles (and not editorials, conference proceedings, etc).

Primary vs. Secondary Research Articles

You've been asked to find at least one primary research articles. Primary sources in this case:

  • are original scientific reports of new research findings
  • usually include the following sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, References
  • are peer-reviewed (examined by expert(s) in the field before publication).

You may also choose to use some secondary sources (summaries or interpretations of original research) such as books (find these through the library catalog) or review articles (articles which organize and critically analyze the research of others on a topic). These secondary sources are often useful and easier-to-read summaries of research in an area. Additionally, you can use the listed references to find useful primary research articles.

For more information on primary versus secondary articles, please see the following: