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ENGL 1200: Writing II (Takehana): Academic, Peer-Reviewed Research

And, Or, Not

Combine all your concepts and terms with AND, OR, NOT:


AND - use this when ALL the words must be in your results. This will narrow your results.   Example: apples AND oranges; peanut butter AND jelly

OR  - use this to connect synonyms, when ANY can come back in your results. This will broaden a search. Example: women OR woman OR girl; cat OR kitty OR kitten

NOT - use with caution since this will eliminate results with the specified word.

What is Academic, Peer-Reviewed Research?

Academic (also known as Scholarly) sources provide information within a specific subject field. They are often based on original research and experimentation. They are supported by a system of learning and study with the authors having educational and professional experience in the subject field. They are less widely circulated than popular sources and may be understandable only to those who work and/or study in a particular subject field. In addition, scholarly sources are juried either through peer review or the referee process.

  • Peer-Reviewed: When an article is Peer-Reviewed, the editors of the journal have scholars in the relevant field review the article's pertinence to scholarship in their field, the quality of research and presentation of findings, the author's expertise and more. The reviewer(s) make a recommendation back to the editors as to whether or not the article has scholastic merit, used appropriate research methods, and contributes to the overall research in the field. If it meets the criteria, it is designated as peer-reviewed and published in the journal; articles that don't meet the criteria are rejected by the editors.

  • Refereed: A Refereed Article is also referred to other scholars in the field. The difference in the process is that the reviews are blind - the scholars conducting the review do not know the name of the work's author. In many cases the reviewers' names are not made known to the author either. By having a blind review, the work is judged solely on its own merit rather than the author's reputation.  Refereed articles are usually reviewed by at least three people.

Guidelines for Articles

Not every article in an Academic Journal will be scholarly. Academic journals also contain book/product reviews, literature reviews and opinion pieces such as editorials.  

When doing research on a topic consider carefully what disciplines or subject fields might be relevant. For many topics you will need to take a multi-disciplinary approach. For example if you are researching feminism, where might you want to look? Looking in history journals and databases can provide you with a look at feminism across time as well as across countries and cultures. Business journals and databases can provide you with information on how woman are (and have been) treated in the workplace as well as how economic factors impact it. Communications media databases can provide insight into how it is portrayed in different medias while a sociology database looks at the impact on gender roles and family.

Many databases have search limits you can use to restrict your results list to Academic/Scholarly Journals and/or Peer-Reviewed Articles.

Building upon your searches for popular resources, you will want to transition from keywords to finding Subject Terms applicable to your topic.

Guidelines for Books

Scholarly Popular
Author An expert in a field writing in that field Someone with an opinion about something; a fiction writer not in the literary canon; may be difficult to determine credentials
Publisher Those that use a peer-review process; Academic publishers like Oxford or Cambridge Interest groups; self-published texts; widely-distributing presses like Random House
Appearance Tidy, often hardbound; may have charts or graphs; may appear in multi-volume sets Pocket-sized paperbacks; ink comes off on your hands; may have pictures; may have visually appealing cover art
Language May be difficult to understand unless you work or study in the field; correct grammar and usage; may be technical; makes use of analytical words         A person with average literacy skills would be able to read and understand it; may contain typos and errors of grammar or usage; may be inflammatory; makes use of feeling words
Citations Offers original and/or secondary resources to verify assertions made within the scope of the work Little to no fact-checking; may not provide bibliographic references; may contain assertions that are difficult or impossible to verify
Purpose Intends to discuss original research or offers an in-depth examination of a topic; meant to add to the larger academic discussion in a particular area Written to entertain, inflame, or sell to a large audience; almost anything that has been turned into a major motion picture

 Chart from UTSA Libraries, Scholarly Resources Research Guide