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BIO 2160: Genetics and Society (Prof. Kalimba Harris): Finding Scholarly Journal Articles

What is Peer Review?

Peer review is the formal process scholarly journals employ to ensure that a manuscript's writing, methodology, arguments, and conclusions are sound. Peer review has long been a marker of quality that sets scholarly articles apart from popular articles (like those you would find in a magazine or newspaper).

Check out the video below for more information on peer review!

Tutorial: Peer Review

Library Databases

You'll want to use the Pfau Library's databases to access peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles. The library subscribes to these databases, which give you (as a student) FREE access. If you don't use a library database and try to locate articles through a Google Search or by going directly to a journal's website, for example, you'll often hit a paywall and be asked to pay.

Getting a Copy of the Actual Article

Library databases often include complete copies of the articles themselves, or full text.  On your results list, look for a link or an icon indicating that full text is available.

Article quick search result with "Full Text in PDF" circled.

If you don't see any full text, click the "Search for Full Text" button: CSUSB's Search for Full Text Button 

If the article is available in any of Pfau Library's databases, or is free on the Web, you'll be given a link to get it.

Screen showing full article is available online in one of our databases.

Database Search Tips

Think of keywords, or important words describing each aspect of your topic, such as:

cancer treatment

If you are not getting the results you want, think of synonyms or related terms that might get at your topic. For example:

"prostate cancer" "clinical trial"

You can search related terms at the same time. To do so, put OR between the related terms, then bracket them off with parentheses like this:

cancer(treatment OR "clinical trial")

Keep track of the keywords you use! You will want to try the same searches in different databases.

* Be sure to limit your results to peer-reviewed articles.  To do so, select the Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals or Peer Reviewed box – most databases have this option. If you're not sure whether what you're seeing is peer-reviewed or not, contact a librarian or your professor. 

Citation Chasing

When you find an article that's on point, check out its citations/references/works cited list. This will likely lead you to other relevant articles. If you have the name of an article you want, the easiest way to get it is to enter the full title in OneSearch.