Library:Scholarly versus Popular Sources/Finding Scholarly Research

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Finding Scholarly Research

Journal databases

A journal database allows you to use keywords to search the full-text of hundreds to thousands of journals. Many databases allow you to limit your results to items that were peer-reviewed. Check the results page to see if there are any "refine results" options - this is where you will typically find a "limit to peer-review" function. Note:

  • peer-review limiters are not available in every database
  • no algorithm is perfect - it's still up to you to assess your chosen sources and ensure their suitability for your research.

To find a good database for research on your topic check out:

  • Research guides - these are written by subject librarians and include links to the best databases for finding research on a specific subject area.


Summon is UBC Library's one-stop search tool. With Summon you can look for your keywords in the full text of our online journals, e-books and digitized newspapers, and much more. Summon also provides a click-box which lets you limit your results to "articles from scholarly publications, including peer-review."

  • To see how that works check out this video clip:

Books from Academic Publishers

University presses and the educational/science units of major commercial presses also publish scholarly research - most of which is subject to review by editorial boards. Note, sometimes the editorial boards are comprised of subject experts and sometimes they are comprised of scholars from a range of fields. Occasionally they will simply be professional editors.

  • To determine if a title has been peer-reviewed you will have to look at the information about the editorial board which is included in the book or on the publisher's website.
  • Look at the affiliation and qualifications of the board members to see whether they are "peers" of the author or not. If the majority are not experts in the same field the book has not been peer-reviewed.