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Month: October 2012

Research Therapy: What is a Scholarly Article?

Posted in Guides, and Reference

Have you ever wondered exactly what is a scholarly article? And how can you tell if an article you’ve found is scholarly? Watch the following short video and read the information below to answer these questions and more!

Why Can’t I Find Scholarly Sources on My Topic?
If you’re having trouble finding scholarly sources on your topic, you may be running into one of these problems:
Not enough time has passed: it takes time to conduct research, write the scholarly article, and then get it published. If your topic concerns an event that happened recently (in the last year for example), there may not be anything scholarly published on it yet. The Fix: find scholarly articles on broader themes related to your topic. For example, if you wanted to write about the 2012 presidential election, you could find scholarly articles on past presidential elections dealing with aspects that relate to the current election.
Need to try another database: you may be looking in a database that doesn’t have many scholarly articles, or it may not have many articles from the subject area your topic falls in. The Fix: try using a subject-specific database or one of the other resources in the Finding Scholarly Articles section below.
The topic hasn’t been researched: since scholarly articles are the results of research being done by professors and other experts in the field, there may not be scholarly articles on your topic if someone hasn’t yet undertaken the research, found an angle of interest to the field, or found a measurable way to test it. The Fix: find scholarly articles on broader themes related to your topic. For example, if you need a scholarly article for your speech on how to tie a tie, you probably won’t find scholarly articles explaining how to tie a tie, but you may find articles on how men’s neckwear has evolved through history.
Can Books be Scholarly?
Usually when we talk about scholarly sources, we’re talking about scholarly articles. However, books can be scholarly as well. One factor to look at for books is the publisher. Books from university presses (such as University of California Press or Harvard University Press) are more likely to be scholarly, but you should also check that there are references cited in the text and listed at the end and that the language of the book is scholarly.
Is It Peer-Reviewed?
Many scholarly articles are peer-reviewed, which is when the journal’s editor has other researchers in the field review the article before it is published. They evaluate the content and procedures used and recommend whether the article should be published as is, revised, or rejected. Peer-reviewed journals are also known as refereed journals.
To check if the article is peer-reviewed, you can
• Check the About or Focus/Scope section of the journal’s webpage. Many journals will say if they are peer-reviewed on these pages.
• Look the journal up in Ulrich’s to see if it is peer-reviewed. For more information on how to do this, watch the Is This Journal Peer Reviewed? tutorial.
Finding Scholarly Articles
To find scholarly articles, try:
JSTOR or Project Muse, which consist entirely of articles from scholarly journals. JSTOR covers most disciplines while Project Muse focuses on humanities, arts, and social sciences.
• Selecting the Scholarly or Peer Reviewed check box available in many general and subject-specific databases, such as General OneFile or PsycInfo.
• Using Google Scholar instead of Google. You can set up Google Scholar so you can access CSUN resources from off campus.

– Danielle Skaggs

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