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World Religions Library Resources Guide

Guide to finding films and peer-reviewed articles in the field of World Religions.

What is a Peer-Reviewed Article?

Popular Articles vs Peer-Reviewed Articles: What's the difference?

Popular Articles

  • Grocery cartcome from newsstand magazines and newspapers 
    • sold in grocery stores, drug stores, or bookstores
  • authors - reporters, freelancers, staff writers
  • editors decide what goes into an issue
  • audience is the general public

Peer-Reviewed (Scholarly) Articles

  • scholarlyappear in academic journals (also known as scholarly journals)
  • found in libraries, universities, hospitals, and research centers
  • authors - experts, scientists, professors, scholars or other professionals in a specific field of study
  • peers of the author (in the same field) read and evaluate a paper (article) for validity, credibility and accuracy before publication
  • peers of the author recommend that the paper should be published, revised, or rejected
  • articles that are accepted for publication meet the expected standards for the field
  • audience - other experts, scholars, professionals in the same field or students pursuing the field

How Do I Tell if My Article is Scholarly?

Use the grid below to help you decide whether or not your source is scholarly.

Scholarly

Non-scholarly

Content

Detailed report of original research or experiment, lengthy report of an original application of an arts or humanities concept Secondary report or discussion may include personal narrative, opinion, anecdotes.

Author

Author's credentials are given, usually a scholar with subject expertise. Author may or may not be named; often a professional writer; may or may not have subject expertise.

Audience

Scholars, researchers, students. General public; the interested non-specialist.

Language

Specialized terminology or jargon of the field; requires prior knowledge. Vocabulary in general usage; understandable to most readers.

References/

Bibliography

Required. All quotes and facts can be verified. Rare. Scanty, if any, information about sources.

Examples

Research study, lengthy academic discussion of an arts or humanities concept, research review article Editorial, news, book/film review, letters, highlights

How to Read Scholarly Articles Step-by-Step

Scholarly articles are pretty intense! I don't know if I will understand it!

scholarly article icon

  • you don't have to read the whole thing or read it word for word - skim or scan it
  • just focus on your topic
  • look for information in the article that is relevant to your research 
  • take notes as you read
  • check out the tips below

1. Read the abstract first -  it tells you what the article is about

  • in your notes, jot down ...
    • what the article is about
    • the working hypothesis or thesis
    • how it relates to your research

2. Next, read the introduction and discussion/conclusion - covers the main argument, hypothesis/ purpose of the article.

  • jot down...
    • what the author found and how they found it
    • what the research means and why is it important
    • new (to you) information about the topic
    • note if the information was presented factually or with a hint of bias
    • strengths or weaknesses in the argument
    • whether or not you find the conclusion valid and why
  • if the article works for you, move to the Methods/Methodology section
  • if not, delete the article and move on to another

3.  Read about the Methods/Methodology.  (Skimming is okay.)

  • jot down how the author did the research (study survey, etc)
    • note if the research is qualitative (describes something) or quantitative (measures something) 
    • jot down a brief example of how the author did the research

4. Read the results and analysis (may be called "conclusion" or "discussion")

  • jot down...
    • what did the researchers learn?
      • If graphs and statistics are confusing, focus on the explanations around them.
    • what did the author find and how did they find it?
    • are the results presented in a factual and unbiased way?
    • does their analysis agree with the data presented?
    • is all the data present?
    • what conclusions do YOU come to from this data?
      • does it match with the author's conclusions?

5. Look at the author's References or Works Cited List 

  • should include all of the materials the authors used in the article
  • gives credit to other scientists and researchers 
  • identifies other authors respected in the field
  • identifies additional sources of information on the topic 
  • shows the basis the author(s) used to develop their research 
  • identifies other articles in the list you might read

If you prefer, watching to reading, check out the short video below for a video explanation about what to look for in a scholarly article.

How to Read a Scholarly Article

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