Answered By: Sarah Morehouse
Last Updated: May 01, 2015     Views: 805

To find scholarly (a.k.a. peer reviewed) articles about a topic, you need to search in the databases. You can either search in about 80% of the databases at once using OneSearch, or you can pick and choose which databases to search based on your topic. We'll talk about each of those methods.

OneSearch

To search OneSearch, go to the library web site at http://www.esc.edu/library. Right at the top center of the page, you'll see OneSearch. Enter your keywords just as you would in any database. 

Here is some information about how to keyword search: http://subjectguides.esc.edu/researchskillstutorial/conceptchart and http://subjectguides.esc.edu/researchskillstutorial/boolean. So for example, if your topic were drug abuse among teenagers, you could search ("substance abuse" OR "drug use" OR "drug abuse") AND (teens OR teenagers OR adolescents). 

When you click the Submit button, you may have to log in with your college login and password. You will be taken to your list of search results. It may be a very long list, because it is searching almost the entire library's collection! So bear in mind that it contains magazine articles, newspaper articles, and ebooks as well as scholarly articles. It's ok, you can get rid of those checkbox for Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals. You'll find it in the left column of your search results page. When you click that and click Update, it will get rid of all search results that aren't peer reviewed. (See the Peer Review in 5 Minutes video.)

You can also limit by publication date right below that. Sometimes you will want more recent articles; sometimes you will want older articles. (Here is some information on the importance of an article's currency.)

A little below that, you can limit by Subject. It's usually good to ignore that one unless you realize that your search results are cluttered up with many articles that are completely off topic. You can go into the Subject section and pick out the topics that are right on, and that will narrow things down for you. 

Now that you've narrowed your topic down, you can look more closely at your search results. To view information about the article, click it's title. To view the article itself, click the PDF Full Text, HTML Full Text, or Full Text through LinkSource icon. If there is no full text icon, unfortunately that means that we do not have the full text. 

Finding Articles Using the Databases

What databases you search depends on what your topic is. We have about 90 databases, so we've simplified it for you by creating a set of Subject Guides. 

1. Go to the library web site at http://www.esc.edu/library

2. Click Resources By Subject

3. Select the Subject Guide that's closest to your topic and click it

The page you end up on is the Journal Articles tab of your Subject Guide. If you look at the other tabs, you'll see one for Books, one for Dictionaries & Encyclopedias, one for Web Sites, etc. For now, stay on the Journal Articles tab.

In the upper left corner you'll see a box that lists the databases that are good for finding articles in this subject area. Read the descriptions, select a database and click it. 

You may be prompted to log in with your college login and password.

4. Now you can search by keyword using the database's search box. 

Some databases, like JSTOR, Science Direct, PsycArticles, SocIndex, Education Research Complete and Medline are ALL scholarly/peer reviewed. Other databases have a mix of scholarly and popular articles. When you are in a database that has both kinds, here is what to do:

- run your search
- in the results list, look for a check-box that says scholarly or peer reviewed, and click that

The checkbox eliminates the search results that are not scholarly/peer reviewed.

If you are looking at an article and can't decide whether its scholarly or popular, here is how to decide:

- Does it have citations and a bibliography? If so, it's more likely scholarly.
- Does it use formal language and technical terminology? If so, it's more likely scholarly.
- Does it have sections labeled "Literature Review" or "Methods" or "Conclusions"? If so, it's more likely scholarly.
- Does it have attractive illustrations and advertisements? If so, it's more likely popular.

Here is an interactive web page that will give you an idea of what a typical scholarly article looks like: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/scholarly-articles/

 

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