Facts About Articles
Human Resources home > Facts About Articles
- What Are Periodicals?
- Primary vs. Secondary Sources
- Popular, Professional, and Scholarly Periodicals
- Refereed/Peer-Reviewed Journals
- Facts About Full-text
Periodicals include magazine, journal, and newspaper articles. Because most research projects require current research information in addition to background/overview material, you will probably need to find periodical articles on your topic. Periodical articles are excellent sources of concrete examples, statistics, and other research evidence for your papers and projects. Here are a few things your instructors usually expect you to know about periodical articles:
- the difference between primary and secondary sources
- the difference between popular, trade, and scholarly peridocials
- what "refereed" or "peer-reviewed" journals are
Primary information is produced for a specific problem or task and is usually reported by someone who is directly involved as a witness to the events. Thus, if a food manufacturer conducts taste tests of its products, or if a company's human resources department surveys its employees about their morale, or a business reseacher studies the reactions of groups of workers to different manufacturing conditions, they are creating primary information.
Primary sources are usually written by the person(s) who did the research, conducted the study, ran the experiment, etc. Primary sources are detailed reports of the results from the study reported directly to the reader. In most cases, these sources report on a single study.
|Look for clues in the text:
Here is an example from ABI/Inform of a primary journal article:
Secondary literature lists, summarizes, and evaluates primary information and studies so as to draw conclusions concerning our current state of knowledge about a particular subject. Often they discuss more than one study or experiment at a time. They may include a bibliography, that can effectively lead you back to the primary research reported in the article.
Look for clues in the text:
Here is an example from ABI/Inform of a secondary journal article:
Most periodicals fall into one of three categories: popular, trade/professional, and scholarly/academic. The table below gives examples and characteristics of each, so you can determine what category your sources fall into. Each type of periodical may be appropriate, depending on the type or project you're doing. Be sure to check with your instructor to see what kinds of sources are expected.
Have you ever had a colleague or friend read your paper before you turned it in? You probably wanted to make sure the paper made sense, that you presented your facts correctly, and that the paper was of acceptable quality. Refereed and peer-reviewed journals work on the same principle! Often instructors will require you to use refereed or peer-reviewed sources in your papers. In many cases, refereed sources are also scholarly sources (see the table above with the characteristics of scholarly sources).
|"A refereed source is one in which information is published only after it's been reviewed by several other experts in that subject area. Many scholarly journals follow this procedure...Rigorous review of published research...assures you...of acceptable and scholarly information." Carla List, Introduction to Library Research, 2nd ed., College Custom Series (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993) 83.|
To see if a journal is refereed/peer-reviewed, check the online version of Ulrich's: do a title (keyword) search for the journal title and look for a refereed symbol:
Some databases allow you to limit your search results to only those published in refereed or peer-reviewed journals. This is also a good way to insure that your results are coming from scholarly sources.
Not every article in every database is available full-text.
- Full-text offerings vary between databases, and between periodicals.
- Some publishers restrict rights to provide full-text because they feel it limits their ability to sell print copies. Further, publishers may make agreements with some database vendors but not with others.
- Many databases index articles written 5, 10, even 20 years ago. These are often not available full-text and will need to be obtained from paper copies.
Available full-text is not always the equivalent to what's in the print version.
- Databases are selective about how much of the text they reproduce. Some may include the text with any illustrations, tables, charts, etc., others may not.
- Databases may not cover every periodical to the same depth. That is, every article in certain "core" periodicals may be indexed in the database, while the database may only include selected articles from other more peripheral periodicals.
Don't discount a database just because it does not have full-text articles!
- Some non-full-text databases do a better job of covering a particular subject area than more general/multidisciplinary databases.
- Since it is possible to obtain the text of articles not provided full-text online, there is no reason to avoid a database just because it offers little or no full-text.
If the database you're using does not provide the full-text, another might.
- Even if two databases cover the same periodical, they may not both supply the full-text. For example, the Harvard Business Review is available full-text in Business Source Premier but not in ABI/Inform. If the full-text is not available in the database you're in, try searching another database that covers the periodical.
- Detailed information on how to do this is available in the section called what to do if the full-text is not online.
Just because the full-text is not available online does not mean you cannot obtain the article.
- It may be possible to find the full-text online in another database, or the Webster Library may have a subscription to the print version of the periodical. Many databases will indicate if the Library subscribes to the periodical in question.
- Articles can also be obtained through the Library's Document Delivery and Interlibrary Loan services. For more information, please see the section called what to do if the full-text is not online.