NSC1210 Skills for the Scientist: Databases & journals

This guide contains key resources for research and critical evaluation of scientific sources of information.

What is a peer-reviewed paper

When an article is published in a peer-reviewed or refereed journal, this indicates that that article has been through a formal review process. It has been read by experts in the subject field before being accepted for publication. This ensures the information in the article is well-researched and contributes to the knowledge of the subject area.

What is a scholarly or academic journals & how to check for peer reviewed articles

When an article is published in a peer-reviewed or refereed journal, it indicates that that article has been through a formal review process. It has been read by experts in the subject field before being accepted for publication. This ensures the information in the article is well-researched, and contributes to the knowledge of the subject area.

When an article is published in a peer-reviewed or refereed journal, it indicates that that article has been through a formal review process. It has been read by experts in the subject field before being accepted for publication. This ensures the information in the article is well-researched, and contributes to the knowledge of the subject area.

Encyclopedia and Dictionaries

Victoria University subscribes to a collection of encyclopedias and dictionaries though a database called Oxford Reference Online. Click on the image below to connect to the resource.

 

Newspapers

Current (and sometimes local) information but not peer reviewed

ANZ NEWSSTREAM - ANZ Newsstream contains the articles from Australian and New Zealand national and regional newspapers. The coverage begins in 1996. 

The Conversation - The Conversation contains news and views from academic and research communities.

Databases versus journals

What are articles?

  • An author writes an article on a particular topic and sends it to a journal publisher.
  • Articles on similar topics are published together in journals, which can also be known as periodicals.
  • The journal publisher assesses the article. It may be reviewed by other writers in the field. This would then be a peer reviewed article.

How do we access the articles?

  • The library subscribes to print copies of journals and puts them onto the library shelves.
  • The library subscribes to online databases which are collections of journals packaged together by topic. These databases can be searched using keywords, author names and subjects.
  • A search in the ‘Library Search’ accesses many journal articles in the databases.
Sources of Scientific Information

There are many different sources of Scientific Information but are they all reliable? 

Use the Evaluating Information Guide and in particular the Who to believe page to check the authority and currency of your sources. 

Discuss your sources with your group and then add these to the 'Scientific Information Sources' padlet: 

Padlet link: https://victoriauniversityau.padlet.org/e5028344/7f4ktfx2hju9
Click on the link then add your information sources. 

Database access to peer-reviewed journal articles

Rather than searching ALL the library resources you can choose to search in ONE of the databases. Remember to limit your search results to peer-reviewed (or refereed) articles, if possible, or otherwise manually check if the resource is peer-reviewed  - refer to the below How to check if a journal is peer-reviewed box.

 

How to check if a journal is peer-reviewed

You may have found a journal article from a different source and are wondering whether the journal  is peer-reviewed. The library has a database which can assist you.

Connect to ULRICH's database here

Enter the name of the journal or the ISSN which is unique to the journal.

You know the journal is peer-reviewed if there is a 'Refereed' symbol next the the journal name.

How to find a journal article on a library database

Transcript - How to find a journal article on a library database

In this presentation you will see how to find a journal article on a library database. To access databases, click on “Databases A-Z”. You can search the databases by name or browse alphabetically or by subject. Click on letter “S” to select SportDiscus database. Connect to the database by clicking on “SPORTDiscus with fulltext”. Enter your search terms. Select options available from the drop down menu. You can limit your search to peer-reviewed articles and full text as well as choose articles published in the last few years. Link to the full text of the article. Contact the library through Ask-a-Librarian for further information.

Transcript of 'What is Peer-review?' video

What is peer review? Have you heard the term peer review and wondered what this means? Peer review is a quality control process, where authors scholarly work or research is scrutinised by experts in the same field. The process is designed to ensure that published works are valid, original, and high quality. Because of this, peer-reviewed articles convey a level of trust and value to the audience. So, how does the peer review process work? It can vary, but the process generally looks like this. An author begins by submitting a paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The journal's editor assembles a panel of experts from the relevant field and invites them to evaluate and comment on the paper. Each of these reviewers carefully reads the paper and prepares their review comments. The reviews are then returned to the editor, each with a recommendation to accept, reject, or make changes to the paper and resubmit. On the basis of all the reviews. The editor then decides whether or not to publish the paper as an article in the journal. Finally, the author is advised of the outcome and, if successful, the paper is published in the journal. At uni, you may be asked to use peer-reviewed articles in your assessments. So, how do we identify a peer-reviewed article? First, note that peer-reviewed articles are sometimes called refereed articles or even scholarly or academic articles. So you should remember these alternate terms. Start by limiting your database search to peer-reviewed. Do this by clicking the relevant checkbox on the search or results screen. However, not all databases will have this feature. You can also check if the journal is described as a peer-reviewed journal. To do this, look up the journals official website or find a current copy of the journal and check its publication information. Another way to identify a peer-reviewed article is to look for these features which are usually found in peer-reviewed articles: scholarly and technical language, abstract or summary, methodology, results, key recommendations or conclusion, references, authors academic affiliations, no advertising. So, does the peer review process guarantee that the published information is correct? Unfortunately not. It is an important part of the scholarly process, but peer reviewers cannot possibly check every aspect of the original work or redo the research. So incorrect or flawed information can be overlooked. However, the peer review process helps to strengthen the credibility of information so that the research can be taken seriously.
 

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