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Environmental Studies Research Guide

Use this guide to find UNO library resources and other helpful research tools.

Biology Databases

Public Administration

How do I know if it's "scholarly"?

Often, an assignment will require the use of "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed" sources. Most databases provide a function enabling to select only scholarly (or peer reviewed) journals. Look for the following characteristics:


  • Communicate the results of research in the field of study covered by the journal.
  • Reflect a systematic and thorough study of a single topic, often involving experiments or surveys.
  • Occasionally publish review articles that summarize the current state of knowledge on a topic.


  • Lack the slick advertising, classified ads, coupons, etc..
  • Articles are often printed one column to a page, as in books.
  • Often graphs, tables, or charts referring to specific points in the articles.


  • Written by the person(s) who did the research being reported. 
  • The first author listed is often the primary researcher who coordinated or supervised the work done by the other authors.
  • Most highly‑regarded scholarly journals are typically those sponsored by professional associations, such as the American Psychological Association or the American Chemical Society.


  • Articles are evaluated by an editorial board and other experts (peer review) before they are accepted for publication.
  • Ensure that the articles published are based on solid research that meets the normal standards of the field of study covered by the journal.
  • Professors sometimes refer to peer-reviewed journals as refereed journals.


  • Contain an advanced vocabulary, since the authors use the technical language or jargon of their field of study.
  • Authors assume that the reader already possesses a basic understanding of the field of study.


  • Always indicate the sources of their information.
  • References are usually listed at the end of an article, but they may appear in the form of footnotes, endnotes, or a bibliography.