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Article Searching

Scholarly Writing

Often, your instructor will require that the articles cited in your research papers need to be "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed". This means that the content of the writing has been impartially reviewed for quality, validity, and usefulness by other experts in the field before being published.

This guide describes how to use Rock Valley College's collection of databases to access peer-reviewed writing for use in your own research. This guide uses EBSCOhost databases as examples, but all of these skills also apply to practically all of our other databases. Don't forget to reach out to RVC's reference librarian if you ever have questions.

How to Tell if Your Article is Peer-Reviewed

Look for these common features of scholarly articles to quickly assess if the article you're reading is peer-reviewed.

Abstract: Most peer-reviewed articles will include an abstract, a brief paragraph summarizing the research question, methodology, and results of an article.

Bibliography: Any scholarly writing will cite the sources used in its creation. The lack of a bibliography or "Works Cited" page is often a give-away that your article is not peer-reviewed.

Authority: Scholarly articles are written by instructors, researchers, or other experts who specialize in a given field and are published by professional associations, university publishers, or other academic publishers. Ask yourself whether the publisher of an article is an authoritative source of information on that topic.

Content: Look for features like graphs and tables, specialized language and technical jargon, and footnotes, endnotes, and in-text citations.

Another place to find out if the journal is peer-reviewed is to use one of the online databases.

For example, if you know that articles from your journal appear in the Academic Search Ultimate database, you can search for the journal in the database and learn more about it.

Go to Academic Search Ultimate and click on Publications at the top of the screen.

Enter the name of the journal and click browse. If the journal is included in the database, you will see it in the list of results.

This will take you to the journal information. At the bottom, you can see that this journal is peer-reviewed.

Find the catalog on the Library's homepage.

Select "Journal Search" at the top of the screen and search for the journal you're interested in.

If the journal is peer reviewed, it will appear with a symbol depicting an eye over an open book, and the phrase "Peer Reviewed" as in the example below.

The easiest way to tell for certain whether or not a journal is peer-reviewed is to visit the journal's website. On the journal website, look for an "About" page or instructions for authors interested in submitting an article.

See the example below of the website for the International Journal of Molecular Medicine.