What is a Scholarly Article?
Many students arrive at college without understanding what qualifies as a scholarly article, nor do they understand what peer-reviewed journal articles are. Once students understand the concepts of what these items are it makes searching content much more meaningful.
When your instructor asks you to find scholarly articles they are wanting you to use resources written by experts in academic or professional fields. These articles serve to provide specialists in a particular field with information about what has been studied or researched on a topic as well as to find bibliographies that point to other relevant sources of information.
What is a Journal and what are Journal Articles?
Journals are academic or scholarly publications in which information relating to a particular academic discipline is published. Students can most easily relate to this concept by picturing their favorite magazine. Similar to a magazine, scholarly publications usually come out about once a month on a regular and continual basis. Also like magazines, each journal is filled with articles that are stand-alone, each with their own content and author(s). Lastly, they are similar in that all the articles in each of the issues of the journal publication are on a various topics based on some area of interest.
That is where the similarity ends. Journals are not magazines because they are professional publications edited and reviewed by other professionals of a similar field. For example, someone who is a researcher or doctor of occupational therapy performs painstaking research on a topic, collects data, and comes up with some new ideas. This researcher will want to submit their article to a journal where it will be read by other people who are doing similar research or looking for well tested results. Before the information will be permitted to be published, individuals with enough expertise to understand the content of the article and a good reputation in the discipline will decide if that information is good information that should be published in their journal or "fake news" that should be rejected. Editors volunteer for editing services and are not paid by the journal directly. Their reward usually takes the form of increased reputation in the field and merit in their individual institutions. In this way there is a higher amount of quality control as well as affluence and influence for the journal where the articles are published while also deterring special interests from controlling content.
What is Peer-review?
Scholarly peer-review is the process of reviewing an author's scholarly work, research, or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field before a paper describing this work is published in a journal or as a book. Most, but not all, peer-review is unpaid professional refereeing. Most, but not all, scholarly works are peer-reviewed.
For books, your first step is to find out what is available in the Texas Tech Libraries (Main, Architecture, and the Southwest Collection). Use the federated search box labeled "Start Your Research" from the library homepage and select the checkbox "Available in the Library Collection". In the search menu to the left under "Source Type", limit your search to "Books" or "Ebooks" for digital-only versions.
Another way of finding information is simply to browse through the stacks at the appropriate call numbers. Relevant Library of Congress call numbers include the following:
Be careful here! You can try a web search using your prefered search engine—Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.—for references, but you have to be sure of their reliability and authority. Will they be scholarly? Will they be legitimate? Make sure you understand how to evaluate the reliability of resources online and/or ask a librarian regarding the authority of specific resources.
Writing Using Style Guides
Students may be asked to write papers using style guides. The library gives lots of of options for how to do "References", "Works Cited", or "Bibliographies" (words for the same thing). Many health area students will be asked to use AMA and APA guidelines. There is a guide at the libraries to help you out: http://guides.library.ttu.edu/citation/styleguide. Conveniently located on most item records in the library Discovery Service is a "Cite" clickable feature where you can select your style and paste that into your bibliography. Just don't forget to use your quotation marks and in-text quotations properly!
Reference Lists in Articles and Bibliographies in Books
Reading the articles and books you have collected will direct you to still more references by using a method called "backward citation chaining". If a paper is cited in the text and it looks like it may be useful to you, hunt it down. Review articles are particularly helpful in the early stages of a project.
You can also follow "forward citation chaining". With modern technology, many databases are now using forward citation chaining to track authors who are citing articles that you are already using. Following citations "forward" will let you know how that article has impacted the field and may provide even more recent infromation on your topic.
Some more things:
*Start your research immediately! Although the TTU Libraries have a plethora of resources, they will not have everything you are looking for. Document Delivery is usually very fast for electronic articles, however, difficult-to-find articles may take a few days to two weeks. Use your time accordingly. Writing your paper at the last minute is nothing compared to researching at the last minute. Use the Ask a Librarian link for assistance (see left). They love to be asked about this stuff. You can also use the Ask a Librarian, starting with clicking on Contact Us under Help: on the right side of the home page.
This link gives guidance to how to cite in the major style manuals. It is particularly good in helping cite electronic resources.