Bachelor of Engineering (first year): Databases & journals

Library resources for students studying first year engineering

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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.

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.

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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Key engineering databases

Full-text databases provide a set of more specific resources than the general Library Search. The term 'full-text' indicates that the full article is located in the database. There are also research citation databases that have the details of the articles but no full-text. There are many full-text databases available through VU library specific to particular Engineering disciplines. There are a couple listed below.


Victoria University Library subscribes to the O'Reilly Online, a digital library that provides access to many books on technology, IT, web development, mobile apps, entrepreneurship, UX/IA, project management, business strategy, digital media, graphic design, engineering, maths, statistics, and many other topics. The platform also contains access to more than 30 000 hours of video, as well as interactive tutorials, case studies, learning paths and audiobooks.

What is a Scholarly or Academic Journal and how to check for peer reviewed articles?

How to find journal articles using Library Search

How to find a journal article on a library database