Most of us are familiar with publications like Time, Sports Illustrated, Vogue, or Rolling Stone, but what makes these popular magazines different than more scholarly sources? This page will help you understand the difference between different types of periodicals, the peer-review process, and how to go about reading more scholarly sources.
Not sure what your professor means by "peer-reviewed article"? This quick video (3:15) from North Carolina State University libraries should help sort things out.
When trying to judge whether an article is peer-reviewed/scholarly, look for these features:
Databases such as SPORTDiscus and Academic Search Complete will also provide information about the publication. Look for icons such as "Academic Journal" (below, left) instead of "Periodical" (below, right, which is the term these databases use for magazines):
Also, look below the search boxes in online databases for a "Peer Reviewed" limit. Check the box to ensure results are from peer-reviewed journals:
Sometimes reading and understanding peer-reviewed research is more difficult than finding it. Check out these links for tips on how to better read and understand scholarly articles.
What kinds of sources do I need?
To select the best source for information, you first need to understand what the differences are among the various kinds of sources that provide us information. By doing so, you will be better able to zero in on the kind of information you are looking for and maximize your search time.
|Background information. Historical information. Statistics. Bibliography of other sources.
|Varies. Books may take up to 2 years to be published.
|General public to experts.
|Information may be dated.
|Current Information. Short articles, easy to understand. Photographs and illustrations.
|Weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
|Authors may not be experts. Lack of depth. Sources not cited.
|Specialized information related to a particular field. Medium length articles. Brief bibliographies.
|Weekly, biweekly, or monthly
|Those interested in a particular subject area and professionals in the area.
|Geared towards those with some understanding of the field.
|In depth information, written by experts. Bibliography of other sources. Charts and graphs. Recent research on a topic.
|Monthly, quarterly, or biannually.
|Professionals in a field.
|May be difficult to understand.
|Daily or weekly.
|Authors usually not experts.
|Statistics. Varied points of view on a topic. Company websites.
|May be updated continuously. Check for update date.
|Need to carefully verify credibility/accuracy.