Skip to Main Content
Adams State University
Nielsen Library

HIST 379: European Imperialism, 1850-1950: Research Help

Databases vs. Journals

If you are looking for a specific article and know the title of the journal it was published in, use journals.

If you are researching a topic and do not have a specific article in mind, use databases.

Why Use Peer Reviewed Journals?

What does it mean to be peer reviewed?

When you write research papers at Adams State College, you are often expected to use peer reviewed journal articles.  Articles that appear in peer reviewed journals have been examined by professionals in the field before publication.  For example, an article published in the Journal of Marriage and Family are reviewed by sociologists who focus on family research.  They make sure that the methodology is sound and the results are significant before the article is actually published. 

What do peer reviewed articles look like?

Peer reviewed journal articles tend to be rather long, often over twenty pages.  They also use quite a bit of jargon, or language associated with a professional field.  Many peer reviewed articles are empirical, meaning that they discuss original research.  Articles that discuss original research have the following format:

  • Title
  • Abstract
    • The abstract provides a summary of the article.
  • Introduction / Literature Review
    • This section discusses the previous, relevant research in this particular area of study.  It places the current study in context.
  • Methodology
    • The methodology section explains the methods used in the current experiment so that others can replicate it. 
  • Results
    • The results section is fairly self-explanatory - it lists the results of the authors' study.  This section often contains tables and charts.
  • Discussion
    • The discussion section is where the authors get to put their results in context.  Generally, in the discussion section, they discuss why their research is significant. 
  • References
    • All peer reviewed journal articles have a list of references at the end.  These are the studies to which the authors referred in the literature review.

Where are peer reviewed articles found?

The easiest way to locate peer reviewed articles is by searching article databases.  In most databases, there is an option to limit to peer reviewed articles only in the result list. 

Identify Scholarly Articles

Many professors may require you to use scholarly articles in your research. But what does that mean, and how do you determine if an article is considered scholarly?

Although there is no hard and fast rule, here are some guidelines:

Scholarly articles

  • list the author's name and degree or title
  • address very specific topics
  • present research findings 
  • have lengthy bibliographies
  • use specialized or technical terminology
  • are written for students or other researchers 
  • usually include abstracts, or summaries
  • are published in scholarly journals  

Off-Campus Access for Article Databases

Evaluating Websites

Here are some factors to consider when determining whether a website contains reliable information:

Who is responsible for the webpage? What authority or expertise does the author have?

When was the page created? When was the page last updated?

What are the goals and objectives of the page? Is the page trying to get you to buy something?

Are there links to other resources? If so, are those resources reliable?

Is the webpage well organized and easy to navigate? Does the page include help or search sections?

DOI Resolver

Digital Object Identifier (DOI®) -- link resolver:

Database Tutorials