You’re in college now and there’s an expectation to make good use of the all of the resources you have available to you. One of the main types of resources you’ll find professors ask you to use are peer-reviewed articles. Peer-reviewed articles, also called refereed articles, are those articles that are published within academic journals after they’ve been rigorously reviewed by other scholars in the same field. The idea behind the peer-review process is to bring experts in a particular field together to enter into a critical dialogue by analyzing the content, theories and research of each other’s articles. This dialogue is then used as a spring board to build new ideas and conversations.
If you’ve ever watched a contestant get reviewed by panelists on Top Chef, Dancing With the Stars, American Idol or Project Runway, you’ve seen a peer-review in progress! Check out this video to find out more:
So why use a peer-reviewed journal? Because you’re writing as a new scholar in the field, your professors want you to enter into the dialogue of the literature of that field and peer-reviewed journal articles are the best place to find that conversation happening — outside of class, of course.
Okay, now that you know what they are and why you would use them, where can you find them? More often than not, scholarly journals are available only by subscription, much like any other magazine you might pick up at the convenience store. Since academic journals can be expensive, the Libraries subscribe to those articles for you and you can access most of our journals online through our library databases. Search for your topic using specific keywords and you’ll soon immerse yourself in a world of scholarship. Alternately, you can access many peer-reviewed articles via Google Scholar, too!
- Find Articles Using Databases
- Google Scholar
- Popular vs. Scholar vs. Trade
You’ve been Googling for hours, trying different combinations of search terms, skimming through hundreds of web pages, even going so far as to buy a book on Amazon that sounds like it might have something remotely about your topic. But you sense that you’re missing something from your research. And you are: library databases!
Think of library databases like miniature Googles (not goggles) for specific areas of study. The UT Libraries pays for access to these fancy databases which contain articles from newspapers, magazines, and journals, and more. It’s basically all the stuff that you wouldn’t be able to find for free out there on regular webpages. Since you’re a student at UT, your tuition dollars pay for these articles already — so if you’re asked to pay for something, put your wallet away and don’t pay twice!
So what’st the big deal — why use one? Well, these databases will provide you a one-stop-shop for finding a lot of the research you’ll need for your papers, whether it’s magazine articles, newspaper from the 1800s, or scholarly research. Librarians have carefully cultivated a list of databases that we think will cover many of the areas of research you’re looking for, including tips and tricks on how to use specific databases.
Of course, you can always use Google Scholar to find articles you’ll need, but sometimes using a subject-specific database allows you to get even more specific with the types of information you’re looking for. Check out this video and other videos in the Tip Jar series to find out more.
We’ve created two new guides to get you started with Google Books and Google Scholar. These tools can help you discover books and articles found online and at the University of Texas Libraries.
Google Books – Find books that mention your search terms anywhere in the text and let’s you discover books on similar topics. Once you find a helpful book, you can search for the book in a library or access the full text of select titles. Learn more!
Google Scholar – Search for articles, books, citations and more. Once you find a resource you want to use, it allows you to retrieve it from a database or search for it at the UT Libraries. Learn more!
Need more help? Just Ask a Librarian!