Databases are primarily collections of online journals where you may search for journal articles. Many contain the entire text of certain articles, but some only contain abstracts with the information you can use to get the article in another way.
Scholarly journals are a type of periodical. Periodicals are published on a regular basis with a fixed interval between the issues. Other types of periodicals are popular magazines and newspapers.
Periodicals are available in a variety of formats. Some are available only in paper form, while others must be accessed online or on microform. Check the Journal Finder to find out the availability and location of particular periodicals in our library’s collection.
Most instructors at the college level require that the majority of the periodical articles you use in writing a research paper come from scholarly journals. These are also known as "professional" journals, "peer reviewed" journals or "referred" journals. Most of our online research databases contain a limiter you can select so that you only find items from these types of journals.
Selecting the "Peer Reviewed" limiter doesn't mean that every item you find is going to be peer reviewed. Items such as "letters to the editor", book reviews, editorials, etc. are not peer reviewed even though they are found in peer reviewed journals. So, it will also help if you select "Journal Article" in the "Document Type" limiter if the database you are using has such a limiter.
The following guidelines give some clues to help you distinguish scholarly, peer reviewed journals from other kinds of periodicals. If in doubt, ask your instructor or a librarian.
For instructions about how to search our library databases for articles, click here.
They contain sections with labels such as "Method", "Sample", "Hypotheses", "Measures", "Procedure", "Results", "Discussion" that tell how the research/study was done.
News magazines such as Time, Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report can be very useful in providing an introduction to a current topic, but they don’t provide the same analysis as scholarly journals. News magazine articles are usually not written by scholars in the field and are aimed at a more general audience than the articles in scholarly journals.
Opinion magazines like New Republic, National Review and The Nation are aimed at an educated audience, but without assuming that the reader has a scholarly background. They comment on current events and offer a particular viewpoint on world affairs, politics, and cultural matters.
Popular magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Men’s Health, Christianity Today, Reader’s Digest and Good Housekeeping are attractive and entertaining, but do not report on original research or cite sources and are usually not the kind of material to cite in the bibliography of an academic paper.
Trade journals like Beverage World, Dealer-Scope Merchandising, Automotive News and Progressive Grocer are industry specific and are designed to update and inform the reader on current trends in an industry. Trade journals may or may not be acceptable to your professor. Ask your professor to find out.