Skip to main content

Chemistry: Peer reviewed 101

A starting point for identifying, locating, using, and evaluating materials relating to chemistry in the Carmichael Library and on the Internet.

Resource Profile: Scholarly Articles

books stacked on each other

Photo by allie(tm) at Flickr

How can you tell if a journal article is scholarly?  There are several ways to tell.  Some database search engines (like EBSCOs) allow you to limit your searches to peer reviewed results by checking a box.  Another way is to look at who publishes the journal; often, journals are published by a university press like Johns Hopkins, Duke, or Oxford.  If so, the journal and articles in it are scholarly and peer reviewed.  Another way to decide is to look at the frontmatter in each journal issue (in print or on the journal website).  Often journals will have editorial policies and submission guidelines that tell you whether or not a journal is scholarly.

How are scholarly journal articles different from regular articles?  Scholarly articles always go through a process of blind submission and peer review.  This means that all articles are judged solely on the quality of content and are published only if other experts in a given field decide that the article contributes something worthwhile.  If you are reading an article in a peer-reviewed journal, you can be assured that it's already been looked at by multiple experts, most of whom are established scholars.

Is there a way to tell which journals are better than others?  There are several options you have.  You can search the journal title in WorldCat and see how many libraries worldwide access it.  The more libraries that access it, the more likely the journal is important.  Other journals advertise their impact factor, which is a measure of how often the journal is cited.  Otherwise, ask your professors which journals they think are most important.

What are the features of scholarly journal articles?

  • Often directed toward a narrow audience that has specific reseasrch interests.
  • Always have information cited in text or in footnotes.
  • Provide extensive bibliographies and overviews of existing research.
Remember, scholarly journal articles are just one of many kinds of articles out there.  If you still have questions, ask a librarian or your professor.

Information Literacy Poll

When you are trying to figure out if a journal is important in its field, what strategies do you use?

Information Literacy Poll
I figure out who publishes it: 0 votes (0%)
I figure out how many libraries have access to it: 0 votes (0%)
I search for the journal on Google: 0 votes (0%)
I ask a professor: 0 votes (0%)
none of the above: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 0

ILLIAD: Stay Thirsty for Knowledge, My Friends

most interesting man in the world interlibrary loan

The Carmichael Library offers a free Interlibrary Loan service.  Visit the Interlibrary Loan tab above to learn  how to sign up for an account and request journal articles that we don't have.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar can be an effective way to find reputable sources.  You might have to do some digging around to find the article text, but searching with the capabilities of Google could make this tool worth your while.

World Cat as a Global Search Tool

WorldCat is the largest network of library resources worldwide.  In searching the WorldCat catalogue, you are finding information about the holdings of almost every library in the United States.